Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cancer you piss me off every damned day

Yuck. A woman I was emailing over the last year about her cancer treatment died a few weeks ago. I didn't really know her, but kept up a little with her to make sure she knew I thought about her from time to time. There is something about being a cancer patient that makes you part of this stupid club that makes it easy to talk to other cancer patients.
She was a guidance counsellor at my school, but I had no contact with her then and someone from my church told her to talk to me about local treatment issues. She had a cancer that needed a certain type of chemo that the Ontario Health Plan would not cover. The last time I heard from her she was taken off all treatment because her tumours had grown beyond control. That was in March. I hope she had a peaceful, pain free summer. I never replied to her last email, but I did think about her.... This was one of the last things she wrote to me and Judy, I hope you don't mind that I posting this here: "I live one day at a time and celebrate the good ones. My friends and family have been wonderful. My 2-3 months to live have now been 2 years and 4 months. It's a miracle"

I'll leave you with that thought....

Friday, September 24, 2010

This Blogger needs to be fired

Today, I won't bore you with why I haven't blogged in forever.... but the news you need to know now is that a) we have moved the store to 53 King Street west, Dundas... just up the street from the old place. This wee spot is only temporary, until we find te right place to house both our store and new curly hair salon. b) in the meantime, we are cutting curly (and any other kind) hair in my house weekly.
Let me know if you need a haircut... more later. I PROMISE!!!!
I had some minor surgery this week... NOT cancer related... just to remove a kidney stone the size of Texas.... and I am still messy on pain killers...

Monday, August 9, 2010

I stole a saying...

A few days ago a fellow Breast Cancer friend came home from several months away only to find her ceiling collapsed into her tub. After 18 hours of flying she said all she wanted was a shower. When she walked in to find the tub filled with plaster she laughed out loud and said all she could think was " It's not Cancer!"
So, this past few weeks I have used that term many times over.
Of course, it's along the same lines as "This too shall Pass" and other sayings but after cancer.. "it's not cancer" is a pretty good way to benchmark bad shit that hits the fan of your life.
After my elusive and ever argued about vacation I came home to assume the position of head packer, paperwork juggler, painter, designer, box mover etc etc in the month of moving our store into a new location.
In the 10 days since my return I have been accused of subletting and slander. I had to learn the deeper meaning of the terms Fire Separation, Commercial Building Code, Zoning Variance, Change of Use, and the worst of all? Waiting Period after Waiting Period. I have had to call and re- call and pretend to happily sing song my way through Voice Mails with the banks and other financial people tapdancing my way through the mire of Liens and Loans and Lawyers. Drafts and Drawings and Designers and Architects and Proposals and on and on are on my doorstep for tomorrow.
22 days is all we have left in the current store and due to misinformation from the city, misfiled paperwork within the bank and a pile of other messes it is unlikely we will be open for quite a while after we are out of this building. Not sure what I will do yet. Not sure of anything really.
I just have to continue to pretend it's all in a days work and keep dancing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You can't tell me how to relax

No, go back and read that again... seriously... how nuts is it that someone should be able to tell another how to relax?
So, here's the story: I'm on a vacation of sorts. A chosen trip to a Cottage Country location in Ontario to a not chosen by me location on a not very good week. Let me explain. 2 years ago during cancer I found this organization that matches donated summer cottages to recovering cancer patients(see the link here) You must be out of treatment and ok to care for yourself and you go to whichever place matches your available dates. I did not finish treatment until August of '08 so that summer was out. Last summer we could not match any dates so we tried for this summer, but couldn't match any dates for when Luke was not at camp. So, we chose this week and I am here alone. Tim had to work so that was that, I travel alone to the cancer cottage or not at all.
If you’ve been following the story of the store you will know that we just signed the lease for a new location as our lease is up in our current place and the landlord is not renewing. I take the new place on Aug 1 and have to leave the current place on Sept 1.
This is the only week in the whole summer that I had nothing else going on except for planning the new store front/ new salon. Taking a vacation on the last week of July is far from ideal. Planning a new salon build and store set up and move in only 30 days is going to be a feat of amazing organization and luck. I can’t really be here and not at least work a little. So you don’t get to ride me about working.
Here I am in the middle of nowhere doing what other people (in Ontario anyway)seem to do on their weekends to relax. I am at a cottage on a lake. I drove for 4 hours to get here, immediately set myself up to read my book on the beach and listened to the many nearby neighbours bark at the dog, yell at their kids, start up the motorboats etc etc….. this is relaxing? My backyard is quieter! Thankfully most of those people left on yesterday (Sunday) and the place is pretty quiet. The cottage is simple and clean, but hot and badly designed for airflow. I spent all day today either sleeping late or reading outside except for checking the internet for messages and things about once every two hours. Don’t ever forget I am not only a single mom 7 days a week; I am also a boss 7 days a week. In the same way that there is no parent for Luke when I am not around, there is no one in charge of the store when I am away either. I have staff, but no one has financial authority over my business but me. If I left the store for a real vacation there would be no stock on the shelves, no bills paid, no taxes filed etc… So, for me to be fully relaxed and work free I have to have no kid and the store has to be closed. So far this calendar year that has happened all of once. God Bless you moms who can be relaxed with your kids around but I can’t, not for more than a few hours.

So, earlier while surfing the internet, something I do for fun…. I posted a link related to work on my facebook page and got lambasted for not relaxing/ communing with nature using the computer too much etc etc…. I am here to tell you that having other people telling me to relax had the exact opposite effect !!!! It just made me mad! I know, you all meant well, care about me and all that…. But go ahead baaaaack to the top of the page and tell me how it is ok for me to follow someone else’s rules to relaxation?
The fact is…. When I am at work and I’m on the internet you should be telling me to not use the computer because I like it that much! The idea of being able to use the internet with no outside pressure to stop or rules about what I should or should not look at is fun for me! As for the whole nature thing… between running on secluded trails and gardening I likely spend more time outdoors than most people… and yelling neighbours and motorboats are not what nature is about for me.
So this week it will be my rules. I will sleep, eat, surf the internet, work, read, as much or as little as I want… when I want, how I want and you don’t get to make me feel bad about any of it…. That, to me is relaxing. So there!
Now, I was trying to go to sleep early…. But y’all made me mad so I stayed up and wrote this!
SNAFU as always. Gnight!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Somewhere there's music !

For years I've been trying to work out where in my life I can fit music in. I'm not much of a music listener I have discovered. Not the same way other people listen. If I don't like the melody or the beat I stop listening. I don't hear words, never have. Maybe that comes with learning to sing/ read music earlier than/about the same time as I learned how to read words. Or maybe since I learned a lot of music at that age in either old hymnal english, or in Latin, German, Italian, Handelspeak etc I never knew half of what I was singing about.
I played the violin for a while as a young child, but I understand I hated the sound and I know it hurt my chin. Seriously, dig your nails into your chin, plug your nose and sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, over and over and OVER again... and tell me that would inspire you to like anything about the experience!
I played the trumpet in high school music class(doesn't everyone that doesn't know what to play have to play the trumpet in high school music?)
I played the piano for 9 or so years and still suck. I played the guitar for a year of adult night classes. None of it stuck.
I sing though. I sing everyday, all the time to any music around me. I don't need to know the words(see above) just have to have heard the melody a few times. I'm a pretty good singer. 16+ years in choirs here and there, a bunch of years of singing lessons and solo work with a few choirs. Turns out though, I am a cruddy solo performer. I have this humiliating habit of bursting into tears when I perform in public. I think I've blogged about this before, it's a parent/memories/ deep subconcious thing . I'm sure shock therapy will cure it, but I hope more practice will too.
I also did about 4000 dance classes starting at 4 and not stopping until 20 something... I never got really good at that either, but I sure loved it. My FAIL was tap dancing. My ankles are ballet dancer tight and not loose enough to be a great tapper. I was very frustrated. I've always loved the idea of tap dancing. I don't care if I ever perform it, just want to do it.
Soooo, the whole inspiration for this post was to tell myself to just DO it! I want to sing, and I want to dance. I only have time/ money to take one class per season. I wonder which one I should start with....
Watch this, it's fun..

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Livestrong asked this today

How do you show your support for people affected by cancer?

My reply:
Well chosen comments(I listened to a myriad of stupid ones when I had it) an open door to a shoulder to cry on and/ or an ear to bend. Lastly, advice and stories of my experiences and knowledge if they want it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

out of the sandbox

HI y'all, I think I've turned the corner from the funk I was in during the last post. I seem to be standing next to the stinky sandbox staring at it. I managed a work out this week, and think I am off for another right now. I read this post by Jillian Michaels this morning and thought it was worth sharing. I love how she breaks down how sugars process in your body. I knew high fructose corn syrup was bad, but I did not understand it fully.

Have you cut all the junk food out of your life? Or 90% anyway...? You know my rule? 10% of life, food, skin care, etc.. should be no holds barred, do what you want and don't stress about it, but the other 90 should be fully under your control. I think I ate my 10% or more in candy last week, this week I have to be a little stricter. I think a walk in the woods up to the peak is in order.
Now, read this:

Dump the Most Evil Sweetener of All
In the late seventies, less than 15 percent of Americans were obese. Thirty years later, 32 percent of us are obese. What happened between then and now? First, the idea became popular that fat was evil and "low fat" diets were best. Whenever possible, fat was removed from processed foods and replaced with sugars and other carbs. At the same time, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) got really cheap and became food manufacturers' go-to sweetener.
Since the days of the low-fat diet craze, we've learned not only that fat doesn't make you fat but that refined carbohydrates like sugar and HFCS do. Oops! A lot of damage has been done, but we can work with our hormones to teach our bodies to react to food the way they did before we overwhelmed our insulin response systems.
A good place to start is to get rid of HFCS. This evil sweetener is incredibly damaging to your metabolism, and it's everywhere. Researchers at Tufts University report that Americans consume more calories from soda and other sweet drinks (which invariably contain tons of HFCS) than from any other source.
You may have seen a commercial run by the Corn Refiners Association that tries to convince you that people who think HFCS is bad for you are paranoid; it suggests that most people can't even say why HFCS is bad for you. Well, here's your answer (tell your friends!): HFCS boosts your fat-storing hormones and makes you fat. Glucose (what table sugar is turned into in your body) is metabolized by all your cells, but fructose (the "F" in HFCS) must be metabolized in the liver. Because of this, HFCS somehow tricks the body into not releasing insulin and leptin, two essential hormones that are usually released after you eat. Without insulin, your body can't use those HFCS calories for energy, and without leptin, your body doesn't know it's full. Plus, unlike table sugar, HFCS doesn't stop levels of ghrelin, your hunger hormone, from rising. If you eat or drink HFCS, you'll actually continue to consume more calories, even 24 hours later, than you would had you just eaten plain table sugar. HFCS also increases triglycerides (a type of blood lipid), which prevent leptin from signaling the brain to stop eating.
I have zero tolerance for HFCS. For me, it's a code word for poison, so toss it!
Where HFCS Hides

HFCS is one of the cheapest ingredients in our food supply, so companies that make processed food have managed to put it in practically everything we eat! Even something like lunch meat can have HFCS in it, so check your labels. Here are just a few other examples of foods that can contain HFCS: breakfast cereal, canned baked beans, cereal bars, crackers, cookies, English muffins, hot dog and hamburger buns, jams and jellies, peanut butter, pickles, protein bars, and salad dressings. Even some organic foods have it (using organic corn), so you can never really be safe unless you look at the ingredients list. Buying whole, unprocessed foods will help you eliminate the problem!

Crazy huh? TTYL!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I don't feel like it!! aka Can we fix it? aka There should be crying in baseball

Pick your preferred title for this one. I couldn't decide.
Today, last week.. lately has kinda sucked. Not sucked in the way that getting cancer or having chemo sucked... but yet.. it sucked.
There were lots of high points too, but today we are talking about suckage. I know suckage is not a word, but it seems to work here.
I don't really get depressed, or so I have always thought. I get knocked over, I get up, dust off and I keep going. Today, honestly I don't feel like it. I don't feel like getting up. I feel like sitting in the mud puddle in this sandbox not caring that there is cat poo in the sand and rain falling on my head.
A friend is dying of breast cancer and I am scared and sad for her. I am scared and sad for all the other people who have this cruddy disease. I am scared for myself and feeling kind of ashamed of feeling that when I am not the one dying. I am mad at the people who say things like " you beat cancer" when they have no idea whether I or any other cancer patient has cancer growing in them at this very moment.
I'm really, really angry at the fact that my business is so painfully slow I can barely pay my staff. I'm angry at myself for having a business that is not going well, because I am the owner and there is really no one else to blame it on. I am angry that cancer, recession, cash flow, taxes and all the other crap that makes being in business really hard is not helping things go well. I waffle between blaming external forces for my business being slow and blaming myself, where in reality it is a combination of many things, a great number of which I have little control over.

Last week I got to see my best friend from college days in New York City before she moved to Australia. It was so incredibly great to see her I cannot tell you. Although it made me acutely aware of my lack of perfect friends that actually live nearby, and yes I feel guilty that I feel that. I was alone for a lot of the trip in order to stay near her and be available when she had time to hang out. The airline lost my luggage and the sales were so bad at the store I really couldn't afford to buy new clothes so I wore mostly the same clothes for 3 days. I budgeted for a few small things and my meals and not much else. Add those things to the standard overtiredness from planning a trip and travelling to some bad news I got the day before I left and it added up to a physically and emotionally draining trip.

The biggest business news of late is that I have to move my store to another location. My landlord has let us know that he is not renewing our lease in September. This is cruddy, but after a few tears and annoyance I know this is going to be ok. The store has been good but not great,and we can find a place to include the curly hair services we have been working toward offering. This location seems great but has never given us the sales for the price we pay for it. The day before I left for my trip I found out that the landlord has apparently signed a lease for this space with another tenant in this building, a tenant who has only been here for a year whose business has been promoted readily by me since the day they opened. The details are unimportant but it looks quite likely that the tenant and the landlord have planned this for more than a year. Maybe they haven't, it's just how it looks. So, from my point of view it feels like I have been played for a fool and all along the other guy has known he was taking over the storefront I have spent 5 years pouring my time, energy and money into.

C'est la Vie! Can we Fix it? YES WE CAN! ... this I am not worried about. BUT today it is another bit of cat poop in my sandbox, another rain cloud over my head, another shovel of suckage to add to my pile.
I am not a get even kind of person. I don't give much time to anger or lengthy bouts of sadness. If I feel those things I feel them, scream at someone or cry a bit, work it out and move along. Not this time. I don't feel like it. I don't feel like doing anything that isn't absolutely imperative, well except for eating lots and lots of candy, that- I seem to be accomplishing very well. I don't feel like doing anything except for staying up late and watching crappy TV and sleeping late to make up for it. I don't want to be nice to anyone, or pretend that I am in a good mood. I just want to do stuff that makes me happy and pretend everything else can be put off.
I was raised by a mom who acted like making mud pies with her children and teaching the neighbourhood kids to waltz was far more important than grocery shopping, cleaning or any of the other trappings of a real grown up life. I think she was right in so many ways about priorities, but sadly my life does not lend itself to this kind of flighty behaviour as often I would like. I wonder if she was like this to avoid the grown up stuff, the suckage. I do think sometimes that I go to this mindset as default, as protection from the suckage.
Since I am already sitting in the mudpuddle in the sandbox and all.. I guess I could just start making mud pies... that would be an efficient use of time huh?(see previous post on efficiency) Ah well, just writing all this down has perked me up a bit, I kicked come cat poo out of my sandbox, brushed some sand off my foot... but don't worry, I will never, no matter how bad things get bury my head in the sand.

Oh, and as for the crying in baseball thing... I thing a lot more things would go better for a lot of people if tears were more acceptable in stressful situations. I would be happy to not cry at weddings if only it were ok for me to cry in a business meeting when things are not going well.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


For those that know me, read my blethering etc know that in some parts of my recent history I was an amateur triathlete. In the tri world I am a finisher, not a placer. I compete against myself on my best days. My last two races I competed against the idea of simply finishing because I was so out of shape after 2 summers of very few workouts.
When I started training for tris in 2003 I had no clue what I was doing and my only real skill was as a long distance touring cyclist. The swimming /running crap was something I had to do to compete. I had 7 years of being a really slow runner in middle and high school and every summer swimming in a lake under my belt... but almost no real training. The coaches avoided me like the plague, I just showed up for practice every day and they let me run. I'm not sure I ever had help with my stride, or foot placement or pacing or anything of the sort.
So, in 2004ish I discovered new methods of running and swimming so I could actually train myself properly. The running method is called chi- running and the swimming method is called total immersion. Both of these methods involves allowing energy to flow through you in a more peaceful way and teaches you to use your body to be more relaxed while running or swimming. These methods are really neat because once you "get it" you can be faster and way more efficient at your sport. During triathlons using energy more efficiently is key, so you don't burn out too early in the race.

Last week I was wondering while I was sick at home with a sinus infection about efficiency in other parts of my life. You have heard me lament about getting cancer in 2008 and then having a recession really hurt my retail business in 2009. You have read about my days of feeling like Job where nothing but nothing goes right. Whine, Whine Whine... blah blah blah... and then I was chatting with a friend whose life went off the rails with a bunch of things at the same time and it got me thinking. Is God (or fate, or whichever thing you believe to call it)practicing some sort of efficiency thing on me(and others of course)? Like really.... Cancer, recession and then a fire in town that has ruined sales for almost 3 months? Last week I got a sinus infection, the flu and my period all at the same time... it was like the trifecta of (not as bad as chemo) physical hellness. Last year I recall being thankful as the recession seemed to be ending that I had the recession right after cancer. Get all the hell over with at the same time. Now? I am wondering.. is God trying to test me until I "get it"? I mean, it's taken me years to get reasonably good at chi-running, and it will take longer for me to get good at total immmersion. Does God want me to "get it" in life too?? Those practices are about being able to almost let go of the body and let the mind really do the work. Being present in the work of the moment to take the body to another place, a stronger more directed energy. Efficient.

As a person with rare exception I am incredibly inefficient. I know and accept that. I don't know any way to change it really. I practice at being more efficient in some things but mostly my paperwork, my laundry, my briefcase, my car etc are in some state of disarray. I am always thinking about the next thing I have to do. For example. I am writing this blog and bedtime is rapidly approaching, and I know I have about 10 things to do before I get to go to bed. 2 of them I enjoy, 8 of them are grown uppy chores that I resent and will get done in a bad order because I hate them. Now, I feel guilty by not just stopping what I am doing to get to those chores and kidlike because I am avoiding them.. begging for 5 more minutes to just finish the blog I have been thinking about for a week. Is this blog worthwhile enough work to justify not doing my dishes? I want to watch 1 hour of television and read for a little while before sleep... is this bad? How do other grownups reconcile all of this? Do they at all? If I become a more efficient runner will I become more efficient at other things? If I make time for running will I have a messier house because I took time to run and not clean my house?.. (no, having a cleaner house is not my primary goal in life, but on occasion it would be a nice thing to have!)
I am really not the type to meditate to find better flow in my energy or chi in my open mind or whatever people that meditate seem to say they get. Long baths and quiet moments and decluttering my closets to declutter my mind etc really..not.. me...
My question to you, God and others... can a frantic, can't focus for more than 5 minutes person, collects old clothes like a thrift store chick like me find a way to be more efficient? Is this what God is telling me in his persistent, yet efficient hammering on my life?
Let me know... I'll be the one spilling blueberries all over the kitchen, trying to clean up the spilled dead plant I kicked on the way out of the door when I was already late for work.... efficient... ya ... right.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Holy, did I forget to tell you?

What a wonky few months it's been. I think I forgot to tell my bloggy peeps about the gene test results...
So, the majic answer is... there is no answer!
My gene tests are inconclusive... a big fat I have no clue Noelle, your genes are not normal.
Apparently this happens in about 5-10% of people tested.
Apparently I forgot that she mentioned this in my initial appointment. It is my humble opinion that it should be good practice to call the patient who has been waiting 14 months for test results to tell them it is normal to have an inclusive result. Given that I was a little bit post chemo and a little bit deer in headlights (where are Donny & Marie when you need them??) at the first gene counselling session I think the pre result reminder would have been helpful.
In my mind the gene test result was going to help my decision about which course to take with regards to reconstruction. I have always been fairly sure I want to either have no breasts or two breasts that match, the unbalanced thing is upsetting to me(only mildly, but "You can't chop down the Symmetry".. Thanks Jane!) ... and I thought having a positive gene test would make the decision to get the other one removed for a fresh start or maybe two new boobs. Having a negative one would help too... more for the worry side of things. Having a neutral answer is no help at all.
SOOOOO.. now I get to make the decision without the gene thing .... and always wondering if I have the gene etc etc,
Getting one new breast seems like my choice for sure now, but part of me thought it might be fun to get the other one a little bigger and have a brand new, slightly larger set.. just a little... I am not a plastic surgery kinda person, but if I am gonna have one.... what diff does it make?
Next questions I guess are weighing the risks of an implant on the healthy breast and how it will impact finding possible future cancer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

remove-a boob-a versary?

I Don't have a good word for today, but it's an anniversary of sorts. 2 years since my mastectomy. Mastectoversary? Surge-versary? Remove-a-Boob-aversary?? Thoughts?

Thanks for reading all my blethering over the years.... there is always more for me to say with regard to cancer.... bloggy readers... I can't quit uuuuuu!
Turns out it is the wedding anniversary for a couple of friends, a birthday for another, and a cancer diagnosis anniversary for one of my Cancer pals...

March 1? First meeting with a plastic surgeon about getting a new boob done!
Today? Lots of work to do after a long-ish weekend (I got one day off anyway!)
How did we celebrate? On the 13th we had our annual dinner at my old work place Lo Presti's. We ate there 2 years ago for my last meal before surgery... which happened to be our first Valentine's day date ever!
We tend to hate all the trappings of Valentine's Day and our first Valentine's day was a mess, (celebrated on the 13th "Anti-Valentine's Day" with me sending the "ugliest bouquet ever") so Anti- Valentine's day things are our gig anyway.

Happy Cancerversary to meee!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Boobs and a Babe?

I saw my mastectomy surgeon for my yearly check up this morning. He said everything seems fine and there were no notes from my mammogram in December. No news is good news right??
Then, I asked him about reconstruction and we chatted about types and stuff and I have been referred to a local plastic surgeon. It could be months before I can see him, and maybe months after that to get the surgery done. This sucks, but whatever. I've got bigger things (ha) to worry about in my life right now... I'll get em done sometime maybe.
Earlier this week I was watching a lot of the coverage of Haiti and the earthquake victims and wishing I could help. I had an odd but strangly not unsettling thought. I should adopt a baby from there!
If this was not a sketchy time financially and so close to a medical biggy like cancer... I'd do it in the blink of an eye.
Yup, I would!

Friday, January 22, 2010

foob in the woods

You know that pile of clothes that you've worn once, but can be worn again a couple of times but never really gets hung up or put away again until it is actually ready for the wash?
Today's bright side of cancer? In that heap of in between clothes I can always find my foob filled bra quickly 'cause when I rustle through the pile looking for it... the foob is so damn heavy the bra falls with a thud to the floor...