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A love letter to you and the year 2014

4:44pm Wednesday December 31st

How I’m feeling: Very sick. I’ve been hiding under blankets coughing, sniffling and sleeping over the past two days. But more so and more importantly, I’m happy.

Can you believe it’s only hours away from 2015? Holy cow! What’s on your mind as you reflect back on how 2014 was like for you? What kind of mood has it put you in? What kind of tone are you setting for 2015?

I’ve been trying to find the words to describe how I feel about this past year.  So far, I’ve come up with something along the lines of this:


I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way that I could ever come up with something poetic enough that would do it justice.

This year, I’ve made a point to take more photos, specifically starting from the moment I was diagnosed on Tuesday March 19th. Since then I’ve documented my every day: the euphoric highs and the ugly dark lows, snapping on average of 3 photos a day. And even then, as I sit here and swipe through it all – it doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. No Facebook or Instagram generated collage of photos, videos or words could ever describe what this year has been like for me.

What I can say is that this year signified the start of an exciting chapter. As for the cancer itself, I know that if I can make it through this life challenge I’m going to be able to make it through anything. In fact, it has already forever changed the way I solve problems, communicate, lead, love, create and live. Those who know me well, already know that I’m one to have thick skin. Well, this experience has allowed me to grow an even thicker layer. Scary, eh? Scary in an awesome way. I feel quite bulletproof. I have more of that relentless fight than I ever had before – for myself and for those I choose to love.

2014 started off on a not so fun note with a relationship coming to an end in January. I immediately made a bunch of changes in my life, including really making sure I was surrounding myself with “good for me” people and things – and not an ounce short of it. This opened the gates for some important relationships to come to fruition. To those of you who helped me cope with the breakup (directly or indirectly), I guess that was life bringing you in to my life, testing or training you for what was to come 2 months later. An event that would be a bajillion times bigger and what likely will be the biggest and toughest life challenge I will have to fight through – ever.

The big blow in mid-March was indescribably life altering. Even the moments leading up to it began to shift things around in big ways. My life shattered in a million different pieces and I didn’t know how to hold on to them, if I could hold on to them, which to hold on to, if I should hold on to them and how much time I had.

Even while frequently feeling numb throughout this process, I knew that this would be life changing. While I was faced with so much unpredictability coming at me left right and centre every single day, this was something I was always certain of. And so, it was something I held on to. I also knew that there was something else I could grab a hold of and depend on. It was my ability to commit to something I felt strongly about and make it happen. This kind of life altering event can go either way: impact someone in a positive way, or a negative way. Even though upon diagnosis, I had NO idea what the magnitude of what I was about to go through was going to be like no matter how much reading and research I did and no matter how many questions I asked, I knew that there was no way in hell I would let this impact me in a negative way. In fact, I called it on this post on March 27th (8 days after my diagnosis). My default approach was to drive this thing so hard – even it it would pain me to – towards resulting in a positive net outcome.

As someone whom is generally comfortable with discomfort and high risk scenarios, even I was tested with my ability to cope through all of this. I still am every day – and so were (and are) you. I was asked so many questions by friends and family members of which my team at Princess Margaret Hospital and I could not answer. I’m a (recovering) control freak who needs to have the answers to everything. Professionally, I am depended on by many to have the answers. And so, you can imagine how I coped with being thrown in to rapid waters full of a whole lot of question marks. I had to leave you all hanging – and still do. I could feel the frustration and worry you all felt from not having answers and there was nothing I could do about it but lead by example.

Every event (the good, the bad, the nasty) this year was meant to be. Typically, it takes a while for us to figure that one out. Up until then, we have our “Why me?!” moments. While we are given examples time and time again of things falling together to our advantage in the long run, we still question why things happen. And that’s ok. We are human. That said, I can already look back and confidently connect all of the dots. It’s brought me to where I am and who I am with today.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still scared and there still is a lot of uncertainty kicking around – but instead of allowing it to get the best of me, I’m allowing it to set me free. I’ve been trying to at least. It’s not easy.

While I didn’t think I’d still be receiving treatment and be off work this late in to 2014 and in to 2015, I’m learning to cope with it. It ain’t easy, I’m upset about it – but I’m figuring it out. That’s life, isn’t it? Figuring it out. After all, do we ever really 100% know what the hell we’re doing? In my opinion, it isn’t something we should aim to feel. In fact, the thought of knowing 100% what I’m doing terrifies me.

What I have learned through this stretches way beyond anything I can ever talk or write about in one sitting. About cancer, lymphoma cancer, the healthcare system, my body, my mind, people, humanity, love, relationships, life, courage, compassion, myself, my loved ones – and the list goes on and on and on. The best way to capture my insights and observations on the world around me throughout all of this is to read my posts.

I could not be more grateful for those of you who have taken the time to tune in to my highs and lows via my blog, snail mail me care packages, send me love letters, the hundreds who contributed to the No Good Woman Left Behind fundraiser, held my hand at my hospital bed-side and shared your personal vulnerabilities with me.To you, I have no words or actions to accurately express how I feel. Without you, my low moments would be significantly darker and lonely and my high moments would not be nearly as joyful and celebratory! I honestly don’t know if I would be able to pull through as I have without you by my side.

My year is ending off on a real high note. I’ve learned a lot, I’m so in love with my extraordinary man, I’ve allowed myself to be loved, I feel at peace with myself, I’m constantly inspired by you, I’m (physically and virtually) surrounded by loved ones that are near and dear to me, I’m living, I’m happy, I’m grateful and I’m excited for more adventures to come.

I hope your year is ending off on a high note as well! You can choose to.

Laugh daily, practice gratitude regularly, love fully. Happy New Year, everyone!

See how quickly things happened in 2014: The Timeline

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