2015 in the blink of the screen

Here we go, it’s the end of 2015. No joking, I can remember the year it turned 2000 like it was literally (almost not quite) yesterday. The New Year’s Eve party was held in my neighbor’s dance studio – and it felt as though half our grade showed up. Maybe it was really just a quarter, but it was a big party nevertheless.

My dad bought me ‘baby duck’ champagne because he figured the millennial shouldn’t be rung in without some fizzy baby booze, even if I was underage for drinking. (Which is reasonable, I think, considering there was no shortage of booze at the party. Though I seem to recall my mom wasn’t so very thrilled that he went out to get me ze drink a la baby duck.)

This was back when I didn’t touch alcohol. I had my reasons, but mostly it was because I really didn’t care about it. This I get from my mother. However, I was nevertheless all set to have some champagne, except that I barley got a sip in due to some very concerned friends who weren’t too pleased. So, I caved into peer pressure – but in the reverse direction than would be expected.

Whatever! It was a great night. There was a balloon drop that took forever to set up beforehand because we had to blow up all the damn balloons. There were weird make out scenes at midnight – as in, throw up and then kiss! For me no kiss, but I watched a guy I had a crush on kiss someone else, and somehow I was still into him after that. Typical wonderful teenage stuff 🙂 And I think I was wearing trousers made out of this khacki coloured mesh. Weird.

At midnight we checked the phones, and for about 2 minutes they didn’t work. Y2K Strikes!

Then came the inevitable freak out, when the host is both hammered yet beginning to sober up, and realizes: “My parents are going to kill me!” which is when we pull out the garbage bags and begin cleaning – around about 1 am. I’ve been at many a party where this has happened, and always get my clean on. Once, at a different New Year’s party, the host’s mother actually called during the party, then asked to speak with me knowing I’d be sober. I’m not bragging, except that I AM BRAGGING because somehow it made ‘being responsible’ feel cool for a few minutes.

Anyhow, after the party, at about 2 or 3 am, we went back to my friend’s home. When I say ‘we’ I mean all my group of friends – the guys and the girls, and I reckon we totaled over 15 people. Boys slept in the basement and girls slept upstairs. Except that my friend’s mother were completely shocked that everyone was hammered. Hammmmmmered. One friend who shall remain unnamed tried to go through the door and walked into the wall, repeatedly. So, we got quite a talking to the next morning. In fact, my friend’s mother thought I was also completely drunk – and this truly bothered me, since I’d been talked out of drinking that bottle of champagne, and therefore missed the boozy fun and instead got pinned for the trouble. Honestly, I was just exhausted by the time she saw me. Tired Catherine is actually nothing like champagne & sugar Catherine… but, why would she know that?

However, it was still really nice of her mother to let us all stay there. Her mom didn’t know what she were getting into. She handled it quite well considering.

Mostly I remember having a damn good time. And that it feels like just yesterday. And I was about 18.

Flash forward, and I’m almost 34. Okay, I’m 33 but with 34 on the horizon.

2015 went by in the blink of an eye. We were in Hungary for the summer. I got a real job – like, a serious and challenging and REAL job. I wrote many articles and won a grant. I was with my husband. We saw the cancer grow, and yet it didn’t own our life.

2016 will start off with a serious bunch of challenges. They will be worthwhile, but they will also be hard. One step at a time. It makes me wonder, will I write more this year or will I write less? Much less? Not at all? Or maybe a whole lot? I’m not sure. Each time I write a post about cancer, I feel truly weary of becoming ‘the girl who has cancer’ all over again. Not that I was ever that girl entirely, but you get known for something and it sticks. I guess I hesitate to blog it all out because it makes me address a piece of myself that  – just – doesn’t – fit.

And yet, writing it out fits me quite perfectly.

Oh well, who cares? Each year is a surprise, and sometimes you have moments that stick in your mind in the best possible ways, and will always feel like only yesterday. May 2016 have many of these moments for you, for us, for everyone. Even when it gets hard, and damn it – it will get hard, even when that happens, may we think back to ‘only yesterday’ and use those moments to fuel us towards the future.

One day at a time. Sooner than later, it will be the end of 2016, and we will have yet another new year to look forward to.

Happy New Year everyone. May you have a Baby Duck good time.

P.S. WordPress year in review!

 

 

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A Petition for #FairCancerCare

This is just one of the many reasons, and many stories lived and/or heard, that make me want to support #FairCancerCare:

When I was told it was definitely breast cancer in my lungs, I was also told it was slightly estrogen receptive. That means it kinda likes to eat estrogen. (A change from the first time, when it really liked to eat estrogen.) My options in this case involved hormone therapy.

Except I’d already been on Tamoxifen, the only breast cancer hormone therapy I know of for women before menopause, and it had stopped working.

That meant I needed to but put into menopause.

I would be put (back) on Zoladex, I was told, which is a drug that puts your ovaries to sleep. Zoladex is not covered by OHIP. The oncologist wasn’t sure if it would help, but he figured we should try that first and foremost before doing anything else. Except. . . except that monthly shot costs about 500 bucks a pop. Or I could pay 1500 a go and get the three month shot.

But insurance would pay for it.

Right?

Oh wait, you don’t have insurance? Well then, you need to have your ovaries removed via surgery.

!!

That is seriously what I was told. And if this post seems a bit fragmented in pace, it’s because to this day I’m stupefied by the solution to my struggling to afford medication – cut out perfectly healthy pieces of my body, despite there being an effective pill that could do the same thing minus the traumatic surgery.

Ultimately I was able to get onto Trillium because we’re a lower income family. Though even that has had its challenges – and of course I am grateful to have that. But for many others they end up paying loads out of pocket (not on the table here, but also worth mentioning is the cost of alternative treatments. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the cost of complimentary health care was built into our treatment plans?)

facingcancercare

Anyhow, for many, many reasons, I want to direct you to #FairCancerCare, an online petition for Ontario healthcare that moves for more treatment coverage. They want to gather signatures before the provincial election to bring urgency to these needs.

“As Canadians, many of us are understandably proud of our health care system. In Ontario, most of us believe that, should we ever be unfortunate enough to get cancer, OHIP will cover us. Unfortunately, in far too many cases this doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, the very best treatment that your doctor prescribes for your cancer is not covered by provincial insurance. Patients have to choose between a fully-covered treatment plan that may be less effective, or following the recommendation of their doctor and paying the high cost for chemotherapy out of pocket.

This is two-tiered health care. Wealthy patients and those with good private insurance have access to the best care. Those who are not so lucky either go deeply in debt or take their chances with what OHIP will cover.

In 2014, no Ontario cancer patient should be accumulating thousands of dollars of debt. And yet it’s happening more often than most of us would think.”

If  agree with their mission, then do sign the petition and please share their campaign.

 

Small things for now

When mortality is thrust into your face like a lemon cream pie, a certain heaviness descends with that awareness. It’s a cloud, or maybe better – it’s a fog: thick, obstructing, enveloping. And that fog is what gets me on the bad days.

Somehow with all this cancer crap, it feels like I’ve aged about 30 years beyond my time. Or maybe 20. Before the bump (btb) there were no aching joints, no grey hairs, no empty nest to trigger a life crisis . . . now, however, I’m a 28 year old who is far too aware.

It’s funny how you read in the news about breast cancer survivors. We’re all survivors so long as we’re here, survivors and fighters, but the threat of breast cancer doesn’t disappear. Women can have reoccurrences (granted it becomes less likely as more time passes, but we’re still checking over our shoulder for quite a while – plus there’s that bloody 50% stat which the doctor was so kind to gift me with). I self-examine my boob every day because of the paranoia.

But even worse than the awareness is how it creeps into the good times – that fog of mortality, of possibility, of reoccurrence. Totally ruins the picnic.

So, talking this all over with my mom I’m telling her how it’s difficult to enjoy like I once did. Sure, I can enjoy a conversation, a cup of tea, a lovely day etc., but when thinking about the present those past enjoyments don’t seem relevant. The real question is: How am I feeling now? And when it’s bad, it’s bad. And when it’s good, I worry about losing everything.

My mom works with many people who have gone through cancer. She says the fog is something everyone struggles with, something we need to work through.

She’s absolutely right. I’d rather be living than worrying. Not only physiologically living (because yes, I like living in the physiological sense too), but LIVING – steeped into the world, feeling the vibes, sharing the love, dancing in pyjamas.

First however, I need to manage this fog. Anyhow, it’s a big goal and won’t happen immediately. However, Marcelle suggested a first step: little pleasures.

Therefore, while typing this post, I’ll ask: What am I enjoying right now?

Answer: Typing – love to type! Sitting – this sofa is amazingly comfortable. Talking – I love talking with you, those who so kindly read this blog.

Here is another question worth asking: What can I do to enjoy this moment even more?

Answer: Open the front windows.

And so I have. Outside it’s white and beautiful; a very perfect Canadian Christmas.

When that heavy fog rolls it can feel nearly impossible to clear my head. Things are difficult, fears are strong and it’s damn hard. But this is a start. Micro steps to bigger goals – and my ultimate goal is to be happy, healthy and living well. In the meantime I’ll look out the window.

PS  – secret pleasure for the NOW. Eating from the hidden stash of mocha chocolate pecan ice cream. With three men in the house, it’s good to hide these sort of things.