Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category
Lynn’s Comments: It was my birthday on Feb 6th and I turned 40 this year. I decided to keep it quiet and have a small gathering of friends and family at a South Indian restaurant on Gerrard St. It was a nice lunch and while I was at the restaurant, I felt my father’s presence and him saying to me, that this was your last hug. Little did I know at the time, but it indeed would be the last hug, as he passed away the same day. I only found out about his passing 2 days later.
Hearing about my father’s passing was indeed tough news, but not surprising. He had several strokes in the past several years and dementia overtook him. I was so grateful, I had the chance to see him one last time on Dec 11th, 2011. I had a challenging year recovering from cancer in 2012 and I never got around to going to visit him again. With him now gone, I savour every memory and moment spent with him. Our lunches spent in restaurants around Toronto. My favorite place to dine out with my father was at the Westin Prince Hotel near Don Mills and York Mills.
My father was my mentor and guide. He was there to give me the best advice ever, when I first dealt with cancer at age 24. He reminded me at that time, not give up on my dreams. I always enjoyed listening to his stories. What a great story teller my father was and maybe one day, I’ll write those stories in a book. The best gifts I ever got from my father was his time and of course, jewellery from all around the world!!
Hopefully, God blesses me with a man who is my life partner and treats like Gold as dad did! I declare that I am so LUCKY!!
Watch this video about a gift from my father:
Lynn’s Comments: With the Holiday Season in full gear and seeing friends and family, it is a time for reflection. It is an opportunity to give thanks, reflect where we’ve been and where we are headed in the coming year. As I think back over these holidays, I am amazed that I survived one of the biggest challenges of my life. Last year, on December 23rd, I left my surgeon’s office, and went to St. Michael’s Cathedral, and cried my eyes out lying on the church floor. Now a year later, I am in a completely different space.
I GIVE THANKS FOR:
- my beautiful new curly hair that has grown
- my breasts and my scars that have healed
- the ability to move my right arm and lift things
- reduced swelling in my right wrist
- the time I spend with family and friends
- my new home and new furniture
- all the support I received from family and friends in the past year
- MY LIFE and my renewed sense of being!
Sometimes, it take something like Cancer to put things in check and to know what’s really important in life. I encourage you all to Give Thanks this holiday season. Gratitude brings more abundance into your life and leads to pure happiness.
What will you give thanks for in your life?
Lynn’s Comments: During my recovery in 2012, I did some research and come across the Young Adult Cancer Canada organization and noticed some great programs that they offered. I attended their Retreat Yourself East in July 2012 in Nova Scotia, just 4 weeks after my breast surgery. After that retreat, I decided to submit my application for the survivor conference happening in Toronto early November 2012.
I arrived to the Radisoon Admiral hotel by the Harbourfront and got my hotel room swipe card. I arrived at my hotel and met my room mate for the weekend. She greeted me with a smile. I then proceeded to the Admiral Ballroom to register for the conference and head to dinner. I was felt a range of emotions—excited, scared and wondering what will unfold over the next 4 days.
In many ways—it was so reassuring to be among a community of people who have been down a similar path as mine after all the first time, I had faced cancer I was 24 and then 14 years later, at age 38. I saw several familiar faces from the Retreat in Summer 2012 and also some strangers as well. In total there were 90 of us, including both survivors, supporters and those are just living with cancer and they have to been on treatment until they pass on. It really just moved me to meet those just “living with it” and I was without words to be honest.
We had workshop sessions which were useful that include topics such as sexy singles, dealing with anxiety and depression and managing brain fog. After cancer, I haven’t had the slightest clue on where to begin where dating is concerned. I had also been feeling anxiety about moving just 2 months after treatment has ended and wondering how would I manage brain fog at work. However, we learned some great techinques and suggestions in all the workshops, and I feel better equipped as I transition into this new chapter of my life.
One of the most touching moments, was when a young man (my age) shared his personal story of losing his wife to cancer and his journey as being caregiver to her. There was not a dry eye in the room and it brought me to tears, as I thought wow!—what a ride it has been to have my mom and my aunts be caregivers for myself in their senior years. Caregivers are the key to every patients road to recovery or last moments on planet earth.
The food was awesome, accomodations comfortable and the community became family by the end of the weekend. I am so grateful that this organization exists and all the work that the staff of YACC do. YACC has lifted me up! Lynn is back—so get ready to see me out in the world
Lynn’s Comments: During my recovery from cancer, I was reminded of the Cottage Dreams Recovery Initiative program. For those who have completed treatment of cancer, the patient along with their family members are able to spend 1 week in a donated cottage. Since, I had known about the program, I applied to become a recipient of a cottage stay.
Cancer has an emotional, physical and financial impact on a patient and their family members. In my case, some of my medications were covered by OHIP and some were only partially insured. In addition, I had to pay for my fertility preservation medications out of pocket. As a result of not working, my income was dramatically reduced and a donated cottage stay, beyond the $100 application fee I had to pay was definitely worth it!
I arrived at the Cottage with my mother and one great supporter on October 7th and we departed on October 12th, 2012.
I spent time at the cottage with my mother and Samita Nandy, one of my supporters during my recovery process. My cousins visited on Thanksgiving Monday and made bbq and went fishing. It was very much a quiet time of reflection in absolute beautiful surroundings.
Lynn’s Comments: It was on January 12th, 2012 that I walked into the the Mount Sinai Hospital Fertility Clinic with my mother at 9am. We had an appointment with a fertility specialist. As treatments for cancer often leaves young adults infertile and puts women into menopause after Chemotherapy, it was an essential appointment for myself. A lovely young lady greeted us and gave us an overview of fertility options—such as egg retrieval harvesting, fertilization of eggs to create embryos and using donor eggs. It was quite intense to hear about all the options.
My diagnosis was breast cancer at the time, so technically, I am supposed to take tamoxifen medication for 5 years and only consider pregnancy afterwards. However, when I met the doctor, she said the Oncologist sometimes lets you go off the medication to get pregnant. She also said it’s what kind of risk you want to take—in order to have a baby. I felt extremely hopeful, after I met the doctor.
The doctor and her assistant left the room, and I literally had to make the decision to go ahead with fertility preservation or not. I looked over at my mother and thank God, she was there. She said you’ll be doing this for your life and your future. She was right and I decided to take the plunge and go ahead with the procedure of fertility preservation. Through the grace of God and good luck, I had started my period the same day, so it was perfect timing to start the fertility medications.
Fertility preservation was not only emotionally draining, but financially a big commitment as well. It costs several thousands of dollars for fertility medication, along with the costs associated with the IVF procedure. Luckily, because I was a cancer patient, I received a slight discount on IVF. Can you imagine, being hit with a cancer diagnosis, and then having to fork out tons of money just three weeks later, in order to keep your dream of having children alive?
My decision to do fertility treatments meant my Chemotherapy would have to delayed just one week. So from January 12th to 24th, 2012, I went to the fertility clinic daily for blood tests, ultrasounds. I also had to inject myself daily with hormonal medications that could have led my tumour to grow bigger at the time. However, I couldn’t simply give up on my dream of having children some day and took that huge risk.
It was January 24th, 2012 that I had completed my egg retrieval procedure. I ended up with 13 eggs—I kept some eggs frozen and fertilized some eggs into embryos. With only about 10 minutes of counseling, I received during that time, I really didn’t have a moment to think about this big life decision I had made.
I recently just finished treatment for the cancer on September 13th, 2012. It was 2 days after treatment ended, that I finally had a moment to digest my fertility preservation experience. Chemotherapy did cause menopause for myself—whether it is temporary or permanent, I am not sure— but I haven’t had my menstrual cycle in several months. Then I started to wonder, “how on earth am I going to explain this all to a future partner?”
Life does have a way of working things out. I do pray that God guides me in the next chapter of my life and grants my desire to become a mother. And to all you mothers out there, please take me under your wings, and show me the way!
With that, I embrace the LOVE, as LOVE does conquer all the obstacles that may lay ahead on this road that I on!
Lynn’s Comments: My journey into the cancer world began again on December 20th, 2012 and will end on September 13th, 2012, almost 9 months later. It’s been a LONG LONG LONG twisted, up and down road, and I am so glad the end is soon approaching! When you first hear the words “you have cancer” again, there is no time to absorb the information, you just deal with it and roll with the punches. I had a few crying days where I felt sorry for myself—but that only took me so far and was temporary. I put on my “Armour” and forged ahead!
I was extremely fortunate to have had a trip pre-booked to Israel, just 8 days after my diagnosis, that being in the Holy Land, I received such a strong sense of both faith and hope. A belief in a power higher above propelled me forward and kept me going. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to surrender yourself to the universe and allow yourself to be divinely guided. All the spiritual teachers that I needed appeared and helped me on my journey. I distinctly remember getting a call on my birthday and having this lovely man praying with me on my cell phone while I spent my birthday in the hospital.
Praying for oneself is amazing, but it’s life changing when a global village takes you under their wings. I was sent prayer books, messages that others were praying for me locally and praying in other countries far far away and across the ocean. The kindness of others blew me away and those who prayed for me touched my heart deeply. It brought tears to my eyes and I am ever so grateful. I do believe in angels and I came across many angels in the past 9 months.
When I think of the end that is almost here, I do hope that all that I have experienced, learned and was exposed too, shall impact the lives of others.
With an END also comes a new beginning—-that chapter of my life is now being written. Stay tuned.
Lynn’s Comments: I have been in a journey of recovery of cancer from December 20th, 2012 and it will end on September 14th, 2012. After it’s all over, 10 months of my life will have been gone and it may take few more months to recover from it— emotionally and to get my energy back. I have been the recipient of great support from the community and then not so great support as well. I felt it important to write about proper etiquette during a time of illness to educate others.
If you have professional association or business contacts with others and someone you know professionally falls sick, I have a few suggestions for you. Being in business mode, is fine for most of the time, but when someone is facing a major illness, remember to do the following:
- shut the business conversations off
- ask what you can do to support the person facing an illness
- send a card in the mail or by email
- send flowers
- bring them a motivational or inspiring book
I have had the good fortune of support during my time of recovery from business acquaintances and associates. Some memorable moments include:
- a visit from an editor of an online women’s magazine
- perogies and dessert brought by a fellow work colleague from another office location
- visit by the Executive Director and another Manager from my part-time job
- visits from contacts and now friends, who I initially met in the business arena
- visits from an ex-work colleagues at the hospital during Chemo sessions
All the efforts and actions of business acquaintances and work associates made a huge difference for myself.
A few friends and business associates, paid no attention to what I was going through and persisted on as if I was in full “Lynn mode” in the past year. I had received one request from a friend to find them a fully furnished apartment through my network of contacts, even though I was deep into chemotherapy treatment at the time. I’ve had requests for business meetings, to promote events and happenings in the city, along with one professional who tried to make me a “client”. Sometimes, the best way to win a potential client over, is to “just be there for them” when they need you the most. Going above and beyond the call of duty, will have you be remembered and more importantly, make a difference in the life of another.
One thing I learned years ago from being in the Rotaract Club of Toronto and associating with Rotarians is “Service above Self”. When you implement this principle, you will go far in all aspects of your life. Start thinking about an action you can take to implement “Service above Self”.
Lynn’s Comments: I first heard about MoMondays through a Facebook invite sometime in June of this year. I saw that they were recruiting speakers and sent in a note expressing my interest in participating. I received an email notice in July that I was booked to be a speaker on August 20th, 2012. I realized that would be a big challenge as I was starting radiation treatment in August, but felt it was worth taking on and confirmed my spot.
I shared on my social media networks including Facebook and Twitter that I was speaking at MoMondays. Surprisingly, the day arrived and I had 4 friends show up in the audience. I had two girlfriends attend, and 2 guy friends who I haven’t seen in several years, attend who I didn’t know were coming. They wanted to come out and support me and it felt great. Sentiments of their love were shared as well, and it was a wonderful feeling to reconnect with both old and new friends.
At MoMonday on August 20th, there were 7 speakers in total and I was the 4th speaker up just before break. I shared on how I took on the challenge of giving a speech during radiation, how life is full of ups and downs. I started my speech by recounting my father reunion story and how 9 days later, I received a cancer diagnosis. The focus of my speech was on Lessons Learned during the Cancer Journey of the past 9 months such as:
- Spirit and surrender
- Think outside the box
- The powerful impact of community contribution
- Random acts of kindness
- Worldwide gifts and support
- Creating a joy List
- Using your life lessons to help others
At the end of my speech, I received a standing ovation and it felt so amazing to be acknowledged and feel the love in the room just swing right into my heart!
MoMondays was definitely a turning point for me and all the speakers were amazing. We laughed, we were touch, moved and inspired. One fellow speaker from Buffalo spoke to me afterwards and invited me to speak at MoMondays there when it gets started in Buffalo.
Here’s my speech live:
Lynn’s Comments: Unconditional love–what is it? My definition is whereby you give love with a complete open heart and not expecting anything in return. Our first experience of unconditional love is usually from our mothers. I’ve experienced that feeling of powerful of unconditional love from certain friends. Actually in May of this year, I met an old long time friend after 6 years and we reconnected at her family home in Markham. It just brought me back to the good old days. She made me waffles, we had tea and wonderful bonding time. I met her 2 kids for the first time as well which was so heartwarming! Upon my departure from our reunion, she sent me home with a food care package.
The power of unconditional love can move mountains and nourish souls. I have been blessed to receive such great love from family and friends. During my time of recovery from cancer, many individuals have provided such nurturing and it was exactly what I needed.
We would spend quality time, doing things at home, cooking, watching movies, and basically hanging out. Time would pass and it would be so beautiful. I remember those good old days.
Take time today to love unconditionally, the rewards come back ten fold!