Interview with myself

Tomorrow is my last day of radiotherapy. Last day of treatment. Day of treatment. Treatment. Day. Last . . . Sorry, bit of a tangent there. Anyhow, I’m going to interview myself about this experience and see what happens. *Warning, my stomach is all bubbles right now, and this may influence my answers.

Me: Catherine, how do you feel about finishing treatment?

Me: Great, it’s been a heck of a process and I’m glad things are wrapping up.

Me: Any nerves about the future? I’ve heard that patients often feel a loss after finishing treatment and aren’t sure what to do next.

Me: Nerves? Hmm. Yes. I’ve heard recurrence is most likely within the first two years, and then there is that five year mark as well. Also, I guess I’m a wee bit nervous to learn whether or not I’m genetically inclined toward breast cancer/ovarian cancer because if so it might mean tough decisions in the future . . . when really, I’d like to forget this ever happened.

Me: Do you think you’ll ever forget?

Me. Nope. Maybe I’ll forget to remember, but this past year has been life changing – the impact is ingrained into my life, kind of absorbed, for better and for worse. So that’s hard to forget, though I hope I might eventually forget to remember.

Me: What do you mean, better and worse?

Me: Better as in I value life, value health, value everything more than before. Mind you, I’ve always been thankful for being here. . . but cancer was a wake-up/shake-up, which everyone probably has in their life – and they are good things because in hard times we cling to what most matters. I clung to my family and friends, and to my writing. It really made priorities come into the forefront. That’s incredibly valuable. Plus, I’ll be going home for a while too, which is nice.

Me: And worse?

Me: Worse . . . worse as in, there is this shadow that I push into the background but can’t detach myself from. I’ll always have the appointments, the screenings, the need to take medication and supplements galore . . . when really I’d rather just ditch it all and go live by Horseshoe Lake as a reclusive writer who brews excellent tea, loves her husband and is often visited by friends and family. . . but that’s just hiding from the problem (and it’s not like I can’t have both realities at once, I can have a lakefront home and take medication, of course). Hiding is no more a solution than whining.

Me: What has cancer meant to you?

Me: That’s a stupid question. It’s not like cancer is some long time friend who means the world to me, cancer is cancer. It means struggle, but if I can make this past year worth something, then cancer will maybe mean change. Change . . . opportunity. I guess it’s not a stupid question, but cancer isn’t my friend. Even if my life improves as a result (which is great and I’m open for that to happen), even then, cancer isn’t friendly. However, there are worse wake-up calls.

Me: What’s next for you after treatment?

Me: I have a long list of obligations, holidays, plans . . . but I guess at the core of everything is the idea of moving forward and reclaiming my life. My plan is to reclaim my life – feel good in my skin, feel good in my efforts. I also look forward to my period, which I’m still hoping for, because it’d be lovely to start a family in a couple years.

Me: Would you like a cup of tea right now? Or maybe a sliced orange?

Me: Yes, how did you know?

Me: Lucky guess.

And so I’m going now to steep some tea and slice an orange. Tomorrow is radiotherapy for the last time. And I really, really want this to be the LAST time. Fingers crossed for long-lasting positive results! Hopefully this past year has been worth the effort.  Yay for the end of radiotherapy!!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! How are you celebrating this love-filled day? Roses and wine, maybe some chocolates? Sounds very good. Throw in a bubble bath and I’ll be there in ten minutes (with a book to read while the bathroom door is closed and I sink into the suds – no funny business allowed, thank you very much).  As for Zsolt and I, the day was business as usual with a card here and personalized stamp set there. Also, I’m making töltött káposzta for dinner with a Hungarian recipe that I cannot read – handwriting being so subjective – and hoping things go well for a nice romantic dinner. Zsolt is snuggling up to his supervisor at the University, going through his thesis.

Today was busy for various reasons: radiotherapy, career fair, lecture about internet marketing, work of the library, visit from the shipping company, and doctor’s appointment. It was the appointment that really had my attention.  Looking at the day, it appears to be busy, but in reality it is distracting.

Distraction was needed.

Half way through my library shift I left to walk over to the Doctor’s office. Two things were required: One, renew my prescription and Two, get a referral to the breast clinic.

Arriving at the doctor’s I checked myself in and took a seat. At the moment I’m reading this book called “Mennonite in a little black dress” which is, somewhat like this blog, a light encounter with shitty circumstances (and great family stories) – plus, the author is funny. I love funny. So there I was waiting for the doctor, reading my book, and trying not to stare at the children in the reception playing with the table of shapes on windy painted wires. Remember those? There’s a table with different colour blocks – and somehow, as a child, it is fascinating to wind them along the wire. I remember many a doctor’s office and health food stores where that windy wire captivated my imagination.

Lately children bring up weird feelings – I’m not sure whether to like them, resent them, want them, play with them, or just ignore them. Heck, some are adorable (e.g. my friend’s tiny girl with the ever-smiling face; she saw me without any hair and just smiled, so innocently, like I was anyone else and there was nothing wrong with that. Geez, she was cute), actually most kids are adorable. Lately, I haven’t spotted a child who wasn’t totally sweet and charming. But they always remind me that I still haven’t gotten my period. And more so, they remind me of the baby/breast hospital where I was first diagnosed. Clearly this a bad association, and something I ought shake off. But for now, babies remind me of 2 things: possible infertility, and possible breast cancer.

Which takes me back to the chair in the waiting room, ignoring the children, and anxious to speak with my doctor about these lumps in my left breast.

She opens the door –sporting a stylish new haircut – and calls me in with a grin. This is a university health care center. The chances of being remembered by your doctor are generally not high, but she remembers me (flattering) because of my breast lump (less flattering), which she referred to the breast clinic. Let’s call her Dr Kind.

Why Dr Kind? Because I like her. 🙂  She is genuine in her concern, and for some reason I find it infinitely easier to talk with this woman about my worries than any of the other doctors. It’s not just because she is a woman (thought that’s partly the reason, I guess); when the cancer was first confirmed she was notified by fax from the general hospital. Upon receiving this fax, she called me on my mobile and invited me in for a chat. That’s good doctoring.

Anyhow, I go up on her table and take off my top, and she starts prodding around. Funny, taking off my top is like nothing now. All that self-consciousness has flown out the window. She commented on how my scar has healed nicely, and I didn’t realize I was showing her my scar – In my head, this is my chest. I forget that a breast is missing, because I don’t notice as much anymore.

That’s a good sign, eh.

Anyhow, she starts prodding. There are bumps and lumps in my left breast, which is normal for a young woman with dense tissue. The question here is: are they cancerous?

“They couldn’t be reoccurance,” she assured me. “Not this long after chemo.”


“It’d have to be a new cancer.”


“But I really think you have nothing to worry about, it’s really quite soon.”


“Though that’s what I said last time.”


And then we laughed, because it was funny – a little dark, but funny. Here we were in the same situation as last May, and she was giving me the same reassurance (don’t worry, it’s probably nothing). Except it was something.

But not this time. That’s what I’m praying. Fingers crossed, legs crossed, arms crossed, eyes crossed. Not thing time, okay? Tomorrow I’ll call the clinic to arrange an appointment. She’s faxed off the referral so they’ll be waiting for my call. But this time I want better results. The hot springs of Hungary are waiting. It’s time for some peace of mind.

Weird going back to the doctor’s office, the very place I first took my initial lump.  Weird laughing at how far we’ve come. But sometimes all you can do is laugh. Laugh or cry, they’re not too different after all.

And that – in a nut shell – was my very busy Valentine’s Day.

Awesome business cards

Good things happen every day, some of which – and my particular favourite good thing – are in anticipated delights. Anticipated delights, those little things to which we look forward: a hot mug of coco, reading in pyjamas, a letter from a friend, eating good food, snuggling in bed. Not to forget flying home to Canada at Christmas. That was a big one, but still – delightful.

Yesterday something very good happened. A package arrived in the mail and when opened, even before seeing the contents, I was instantly transported into the land of ‘good moods’. There they were, all snug in a tiny box – one hundred Bumpyboobs in a rainbow of colours. These things are gorgeous!

It started last week on some random evening. Zsolt’s Amazon package arrived with a flyer promoting free business cards.

Free, did you say? I was all over it.

But you know what, free business cards aren’t even an 1/8th as cute as non-free business cards. I went to this site called and started to play. The internet is amazing when it comes to designing books, cards, photo collections etc. It’s easy and accessible. Now, I firmly believe that pre-made templates will never trump a talented graphic designer – because I’ve seen some awesome graphic designing in my time – but for late evening online crusing, they fit the bill perfectly. (Side note: you can upload your own designs, so customize the card as much as you like, but I’m a bit lazy and thought the text-only approach much easier) I started to play with designs and words and colours. It was good fun.

You may ask – why do you need business cards, Catherine?

To which I’d answer, I don’t know . . . they looked good? Why do women buy $500 shoes? Certainly not because it’s practical. But cute is cute, and that’s hard to resist.

So yesterday my package arrived in the mail, presented in a tiny box with bright orange lining – 100 mini cards with BUMPYBOOBS on one side, and my name and website on the back.


Next up: what the heck do I do with 100 mini cards? Zsolt has one, and I’ll keep a few . . . and after that, hmmm. . . one idea is to leave them in places where women dealing with breast cancer may find them.  Another idea would be to hand them out personally. But where and who and when, I have no clue.

But – if you build it, they will come. The cards now exist. Surely a circumstance of use will eventually materialize. Here is hoping, otherwise that’s £15 wasted on impulse.

No, I take that back. Even if these little gems stay in their box for the rest of their lives, the cards are representative – they are labelled with a declaration to ‘screw breast cancer and get on with the show’ – and somehow, in a sense that is deeper than pretty colours and printed cardboard, they represent this past year of my life.

So that was my good thing. Amongst others. Thinking about it makes me smile all over again. 🙂