Rethink being alone

I’m writing to you from the Royal York in Toronto, seventh floor and on a queen sized bed, sitting on top of the white duvet (as I sip on my dark tea and hope not to spill). This is all thanks to and the Mirror Ball (Twitter Ball it here) that’s happening this weekend – tonight, actually, and I’m really excited to attend this fantastic gala and report back with all the details. But since I had a covered trip to Toronto, I decided to couple this fantastic event with another, and that’s Rethink’s Breast Quest Film Festival.  This past mornng and last night (I was up way past bedtime) I’ve been attending Rethink events,  and let me say this: it was refreshing.

So, last night I attended a screening of a film that features ladies from the SCAR project, a powerful photography exhibit that shows young women and their scars after having had mastectomy, bilateral, reconstruction, etc. This film goes behind the photographs and actually taps into the story of several of those women. It’s freaking touching. There were four of us sitting there in the theater (plus Zsolt) who had had breast cancer, and we were all tearing up as again and again issues were discussed that had impacted us all.

And after the film, there was schmoozing. Zsolt put on his new ‘brave guy who networks’ hat and dragged me over to meet the photographer and a couple from the film, all of whom were attending the festival. That was quite something to hear their visions and listen to where they think the SCAR project might go next. (Maybe Ottawa? Though when I asked the photographer, “so will you bring the exhibit to Canada?” he turned it on me and said, “The question is, will you bring the exhibit to Canada?” Oh my goodness. I have never even considered the possibility. But this is an extremely powerful show . . . it might actually be an amazing experience to organize its debut in Ottawa. But anyhow, that’s an aside.)

Oh, this tea is really strong. I made it in the coffee machine, and it tastes like English Breakfast with heavy traces of coffee.

So there was the networking part of the evening, which was cool. But you know what was even better? The meeting of women. All these women, in one place, and all having been diagnosed with breast cancer. This early afternoon I attended a Lunchen (which involved an amazing quinoe & kale salad) and met girls like Joanne, and Ashley and Rebecca, and Terri and Katie, and Cat and this other woman who was really cool and chill, but had a name I cannot remember. All these women have been where I’ve been – we’ve all been the youngest in the treatment room, and we’ve all been sideswiped so unexpectedly while trying to forge a life – normally I can’t connect with these people unless I’m online. It was so, so, so nice – so very nice to meet them in person and share a laugh and a cry.

Next year Rethink will have another Breast Quest Film Festival – and will I attend? Absolutly. How could I not? This young and fresh not-for-profit has such a innovative and targeted approach (true it isn’t for everyone, particularly those who dislike the use of ‘boobie’ with ‘breast cancer’), I can’t help but feel excited every time I hear about their organization. And after this weekend, I’m 100% sold on the power of coming together  to live, laugh and learn.

SO that was today and yesterday. Whether or not I actually post this depends on internet access and whether I can motivate myself down over to Starbucks where the wifi is free, but the green tea isn’t. Last night Zsolt and I stayed in a hostel and had free wifi. Tonight we’re in the Royal York and it costs about 15 bucks a night. WTF.

However, this duvet is incredibly cosy, and I love the wall paper. Really, it is luxurious and gets me quite excited for tonight’s gala. But come people, 21st century. FREE WIFI, already!

PS. Everyone in Toronto seems to be around my age – at least in this Starbucks. . . yes, I’ve now gotten out of the hotel room and am having a green tea at Starbucks. Funny how time flies when you’re reading a blog post, you probably didn’t even notice that I got up, got dressed (more dressed) and walked outside and into the coffeeshop. But I did, all while writing this post.

Facing Cancer Together

One more nice thing happened to me this week. I started blogging for a website called Facing Cancer Together. It’s presented by the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) Foundation, and sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart. This is a Canadian based website that offers a supportive online community to anyone effected by cancer.

This is part of my ‘become a writer’ plan. It’s one thing to want to write, it’s another to get out there and promote yourself. But promotion is essential to becoming an active writer, and becoming an active writer is essential to my recovery.

I mean, okay – cancer is random and horrible and unexpected. Right? Yes. So when asking myself ‘why the hey did I get cancer?’, all I can do is shake my head, and stomp my feet, and forget the question because no grand voice from above has ever shouted down an answer.

But – but but but – even before I was officially diagnosed, probably the day Bumpyboobs was established, I thought to myself, ‘the least I can do is write. If I have cancer, I will write. If I don’t have cancer, I will write. No matter what, I’ve got to write about this experience.’

There I was, totally freaking out, and writing was at the forefront of my mind.

So maybe that’s why I got cancer? Really, it’s a mystery. Like mentioned, no booming presence has ever shouted down from above: HEY CATHERINE, YOU GOT CANCER BECAUSE __________. OKAY? NOW STOP ASKING ME.

And because of that, I’ll have to assign my own meaning to this past year. Whatever the reason, the outcome is my wanting to be a writer even more than before.

So when there was a tweet on my Twitter timeline asking for bloggers to contact, I jumped at the opportunity. This is a great chance to grow my network, reach people who ‘have been there’ (and those who are actually going through it), and WRITE.

Following my instincts has never lead me astray. It took me across the world, took me to my husband, and now it’s taken me to writing.

So feel free to check it out and browse the webpage. I’ll always be Bumpyboobs, but will post maybe once a week on Facing Cancer Together (sometimes a repeat post from this page). This is a good step, and good thing. There are many good things happening. And that in itself is good.