Adventure is Worthwhile

Years ago my parents attended a psychic fair. There’s one in Ottawa, held each year, I think. Anyhow, they were there and my dad got to talking with one of the psychics. I suppose she must have given him a reading. And surprisingly part of that reading related to me.

“Your daughter is going to travel the world, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her,” said the psychic.

“Catherine?” he asked with a fair amount of disbelief. I mean, not disbelief that I’m his daughter – but that I would have ever considered traveling. As a child I hated not being home. When I went to camp my parents had to fax me every day, just so I could cope with being away. One day the fax came through with only the cover sheet – I balled my eyes out.

So, he doubted her prediction very much.

adventure-is-worthwhile

And then, one day, I went off to travel the world, and there was quite literally nothing they could do to stop me. (Even though before leaving for Europe Dad did in fact warn me, “don’t go falling in love with anyone while you are away.” Ha! Well, we know how that ended up.)

All that to say, I have been adventurous. From going to camp, then moving to Jasper for the summer and working at a Tramway, to moving to Quebec City for a month of solitude and French, to backpacking with my brother in Europe, to almost becoming an Au Pair in Sicily, to living in Hungary, to studying in England, to crossing the Atlantic by ship, to eating the best pizza of my life in New York, to Iceland and Portugal and Malta and Greece and Havana, and all the incredible places I’ve been gifted enough to visit.

Life has been an adventure. And it has been, as the great Amelia Earhart stated, worthwhile.

As you may appreciate, adventure can be big and it can be small. It can be choosing to raise a family, it can be buying a home, it may be travel, or diving into a passion project, it can be trying something new, it can be saying “I want this for my life” and then chasing that down, it can be a new recipe in the kitchen.

Anyhow!! One of the dearest gifts I’ve received from my adventures have been the relationships – the friendships. My goodness, what incredible relationships life has brought. It’s a theme I’ve explored in Bumpyboobs before – how living here and there can create heartache, because the fact is you always need to say goodbye. But you know what? The good friendships, the REALLY good ones – they keep. They just keep. My best relationships came from taking chances. Even if that chance was simply reaching out and saying hello to someone new.

Examples/Stories!!

Zsolt: Went back packing with little brother. Experienced fear like crazy. It was my first time in Europe and so far away from home. Each new city terrified me for the first day or two, (and then it was technicolour brilliance of adventures.) Met a man I thought I could marry. MARRIED HIM.

The creative writers: I won’t name them. But here’s the jot-note story. Moved to England with boyfriend. Eeeep. Arrived with nothing. Worked in a miserable job for 6 months. (still made friends!) Decided job was miserable. Applied for Creative Writing program, despite being sure I wasn’t good enough and was pretty sure a career post-MA would be hard to pin down. Was accepted. Spent every last penny on International Student fees. Met people who LOVE writing. Met people who would help shape my passion for writing. Met people who had such compassion and fascinating stories, and who dared to share their writing over many cups of tea. Met people who would be incredible FRIENDS FOR LIFE.

Zsolt’s PHD: This was Zsolt’s adventure, but I stuck my nose in. Zsolt applies for a PhD in England and GETS ACCEPTED. (Even though one teacher at his school in Hungary told him he’d never make it through a PhD degree in England). Leaves everything in Hungary and moves to England with girlfriend (me). Struggles like hell with the pressures of a PhD in a new country, all in English, with big expectations. Bonds with those who are doing the same, and facing their own big challenges, and they all persevere together. Kindly, he invites his girlfriend to join him and his colleagues for lunch every day at the Staff Club on the uni campus. They welcome her as if she belonged amoung this group of incredible scientists. Those same colleagues begin to invite their partners to join us for lunch too. Friendships and families form. We are blessed.

The Tramway: Again, no names. But here is the story. Am inspired when 15 years old after visiting the park to move to Jasper for a summer after high school and work. Do as planned. Work on a mountain. Live in a shit hole. Meet the BEST DAMN PEOPLE you could ask for. Go to the club every other night and we sweat through our clothes with the dancing. The next day, everyone gets on their bikes and heads to the glacier lake. Or the veranda at the Fairmount. Or the grocery stor. Or that tree in the park with the perfect kind of shade. At work, we savor what it feels like to look across the world everyday from the peak of a mountain. And we wear very ugly uniforms of green vests and mesh pants. Those people matter to me, and I still value the important friendships that have lasted from that time.

Working for Amnesty: Accepted a job in August, found out the cancer had become worse in September. Still began job in October – took the risk that it might wear me out (It did at first! But then it lifted me up.) in exchange for doing what mattered to me in life. Met people who inspired me to strive for better things, and helped me realize my potential. Worked 1.5 years before I had to stop. CONQUERED MY DOUBTS and grew a better relationship with myself.

Adventure is worthwhile.

These are big examples, but there are so many smaller ones I could list here too. Podcasting, publishing, applying to work in a book store (was I good enough to recommend books?!), inviting people to attend pumpkin carving parties (because I am terrified of social rejection), and many other things. Small things matter very much.

Adventure is worthwhile. But in every day life, so is risk. So is commitment and just a tiny bit of passion.

Hesitation is reasonable, but ultimately, it’s for suckers. Do plan and learn. Me? I worked boring jobs to save, applied for visas,  entered contests I’d never win and took opportunities never knowing what might and might not work, what might or might not fail, or where it all was going. (I also took many naps, cried too many times, ate a lot of cheese, and watched a lot of Netflix, ’cause I ain’t superwoman.) Somethings worked, others didn’t. Try, try and try again!

But, despite feeling rather aimless occasionally (*ahem*, okay, often), I strive to remember that my big personal regrets are all from times I let my fear and insecurities me. Not having a baby. Not chasing after a boy. Not running for class president. Delaying what I want because I didn’t know how to do it well  (learn how if it matters so much, and ditch perfection) … and from those moments I have taken much too.

Regrets happen, and so does fear, and frankly this is real life – opportunities will at times be missed.

But…

Adventure is worthwhile. Risk is worthwhile.

You are worthwhile.

Now, give the world a chance to realize that. Stop hesitating and dive into life. (You know who you are!) I promise, I will keep doing the same. Together we’ll see what happens next.

(High five!)

Considering the time, that is all I want to say about that. Sorry for being SO very didactic towards the end. This blog post has somewhat carried me away on a sentimental TEDTalk-esque wave of PREACH, LADY, PREACH!

 

P.S. Thank you to you-know-who for inspiring this blog post. YOU are so very worthwhile, in every way. 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

P.P.S.

I’d like to dedicate this post to Jasmin. She truly challenged me to face my fears when I attended her retreat Stretch Heal Grow through Rethink Breast Cancer. She had metastatic breast cancer and passed away recently. If you’d like to learn more about her adventures, check out her story and considering supporting her incredible project as a legacy to this women.

Purposefully Posting

This body of mine is keeping me awake again. But that’s not news. That’s every night around 3:30 AM-5AM or 4:30AM-6AM or 1:30AM-3AM. As far as insomnia goes, it is very reasonable and probably not insomnia at all.

But still, it helps if I write.

Therefore, I am writing.

Today I received a lovely bouquet from work. A thank you for everything kind of bouquet. It’s with white hydrangeas and pink roses and white lilies that are all cast against these large, wide folds of dark green leaves. Very pretty. It arrived via the delivery person and was a great surprise. Notably it was not a bouquet about my health, but instead about my contribution.

And yet still slightly bittersweet to receive, of course.

The past few days have been strange for me. Listless. With the impact of radiation being felt, I’m tired. Justttttt so tired. And yet not tired. Jusssssst so not tired. There are things I’d like to do, but have no drive to get done. My mind says yes, the body screams no.

Patience is a virtue in these situations, I suppose. But at the same time, I feel like I’m missing my window.

There are these windows when living despite cancer. Windows of opportunity that are between treatment and scans. When I do not need to visit the hospital 3 x in a week, and do a follow up the week after, and get treatments. There are these golden windows when life should be seized BY THE BALLS. Yeah, I just typed that – for realz.

Right now is that window of time. Except I literally just abandoned one of my life-balls-grabbing outlets, being my job. My amazing dream-come-true job. It’s bobbing away from me in the stream of life. The purposeful side of me is like, “WHAT IS NEXT?” and the reality side of me is like “YOUR NAP!”

But life despite cancer means pushing beyond the nap (or between them). I’ve been inspired by many an  amazing lady in the metastatic cancer world to know it’s essential. And it’s always just been a core value of how I’d like to define myself. Please, as I have said before, never say I lost a battle against a disease – should it come to my passing one day – instead, say I live the fuck outta life. Because if life isn’t about more than this body, then what’s the point of anything?

What is next then?

More writing? More art? More social media exploration? More travel? More ‘I haven’t discovered it yet, but will let you know when I do’? Probably all the above in small, manageable doses.

I suppose at now 6:00 AM in the morning, it means more sleep. For now.

And then ultimately a search for purpose. A new purpose. The last 1.5 years has been for Amnesty. Before that, for my writing. And now… we will see. Once again, it’s time to redefine what I am through what I do. I see everyone around me working with intensity … and my instinct is to join in with a passion. Therefore, I must find a spark – however long or short it is to last (spark may be short lived, but if it catches, it burns!)

And I must be more forgiving to my body. We are one unit, even if I would rather pretend that isn’t the case when the pain flares or sleep calls . . . but we are one unit, for now, and care needs to be given there too. Compassion, perhaps is an even better word.

So long as boredom doesn’t creep in too deeply.

Anyhow, so the journey of who I am begins again.

With the receiving of flowers, it is time to start a new path.

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And go back to bed.

Special Things

Today is a special day.

It’s the day I went into the office for a small gathering of friends to celebrate my time having worked together at Amnesty International. It’s also the day I get to finally start my new treatment approach.

And it’s very bright outside today, which makes it all the better.

tea-time

Let me start with Amnesty. I do not write about work on this blog too often. I feel it’s something beyond the personal – and would be unprofessional to write about it in this space. But I can write about how lovely it is to belong somewhere, and I have really felt like I belonged in my role this past 1.5 years, and with this amazing organization. Truly it has changed who I am, how I see the world, and my knowledge in what kind of change people working together- grassroots upwards – can make.

But today was about the cheese and tea. Having finished work last week (I made the decision to leave my role as book club coordinator after Dr Canada gave Zsolt that ‘expect the worst’ talk, and things wrapped up last week.)… having finished work last week, some friends at the organization threw me a little tea party this week. I just had to show up and enjoy! There was tea (we tried some plum, some cinnamon, and a hibiscus) and variety of cheeses, as well as crackers and gluten free baked goods from the market, plus most importantly: Good Company.

Sitting around chatting reminds me that it’s just essential to connect. Social media and such is fine and well, but a nice table with some china and chatter – it’s the essential stuff. It’s where the calm and laughter really live. It’s where you realize how much you have in common, and how much you have to learn. I hope as time moves forward, I can continue to seek out meaningful moments like the ladies gave me today.

Today is also a special day because of the new treatment. Oh, stage four and treatments – one comes after the other until the doctor says ‘that’s it!’ and it’s a very hard situation. But sometimes moments of hope appear, and whatever kind of opportunity they offer – another month, another year, another study, another approach – they are meaningful.

With the cancer all over my lungs, liver, bones and in my brain, the picture is not pretty. But at least today I’ve been able to start a new treatment course. The radiation has zapped the spots in my brain, and maybe this medication will help kill any bits remaining in there. If so, maybe then I can get onto a clinical trial and attempt a different approach for battling back the disease. Fingers crossed for a virus study.

But we’ve had to wait about 3 months before I could get this medicine. It’s called Tykerb, and it’s a HER2 drug that apparently can cross the blood brain barrier, whereas other approaches cannot. It’s also about 5000$/month if you are not covered by the province or insurance. Guess who isn’t covered?

However, through a series of fortunate events, persistence and compassion it has become accessible to me. I won’t give details because it’s not my place to do so. But we get to try it, and that is so very good. Like I say, who knows whether it will work, and even if it does, who knows how long it will last – with me, things seem to move on quickly from working to not working, but it’s nevertheless a gift of hope. I get to try.

I get to try. And that matters very much.

I’m also back on chemo. This time it is a pill. This is fine, it’s part of the treatment. Though it’s also a bit hard to swallow in that …I already weigh nothing. My energy is so depleted.  My appetite was never great. Ahhhh.

But who knows? Maybe it will help push back the cancer in my lungs, so I can breath better. And maybe it will reduce the discomfort of the bones. And maybe I’ll be able to rebuild some muscle mass? All these things would be lovely.

In the meanwhile, I had a fun conversation today with the ladies at work about movies that impacted our lives. Some that came up: Garden State (my movie choice), Amelie, Reality Bites, Bridget Jones, Dirty Dancing and more. And in that vein, here is one more: Beauty and the Beast. One of the first characters that I really, really wanted to identify with. Headstrong, smart, beautiful, adventurous, and a reader! Disney is redoing the film with Emma Watson. Here is the trailer.  Tingles!

P.S. I am writing a lot lately. It’s a coping mechanism. I hope I am not overwhelming your news feed or email. Feel most welcome to ignore me. 🙂

P.P.S. Did anyone catch that emergency debate on the USA’s decision regarding refugee travel and how Canada should respond? Very insightful, I thought….very interesting how each MP approached the issue. Much of it disappointing (self-congratulations of a country, avoidance of issue through excessive storytelling, platform pushing), but some of it quite good (acknowledging Canada has failed to support refugees in the past, pushing for some form of commitment on how we can help now, direct language and direct responses, etc.)

P.P.P.S I’ve got nothing to add here – just didn’t want to end on politics.

THE END 😉