Ohh….the happy tears. I had to leave it at that before I got really awkward. I was beginning to get choked up and didn’t know what to say. So, I said…..bye!
1:56pm. June 23rd 2015
How I’m feeling: Already better than I did a few minutes ago because I’m about to write a bunch out. There’s been a lot going on – and I don’t believe on repressing things. It’s not easy to stare things dead straight in the eye and address things. It takes time and the intention to face it. But what it mostly requires is an incredible amount of courage. We would all be so much more happier and at peace with ourselves if we were more courageous. But you know what keeps us from going there? Ego. It’s ego. It gets in the way. To let ego get in the way is easy. And since when does the easy route get you to great? It’ll get you to good – but who the hell wants “good”? Not me! Plus, since when has hard work scared me away?
I don’t even know where to begin. What’s going on, Carolyn? I’m not even sure how to answer this one! I’ve found it difficult to answer when people have asked me over the past while. I’ve mostly responded with “Things are good”. And it’s true. They are. They always are. I’m alive and surrounded by love with it’s true traits – pure, unselfish and full.
Let’s start with the update on my scans.
The Latest Scan Results
I had a CT scan done back in March, and then another one done in May. Leading up to the appointment I had at the end of May to discuss my results, I had a lot of anxiety. I was about to hear what the results and impact from a year’s worth of work was: All of the hospital stays, the medication flowing through my veins, the cups of pills I had to pop, the transplant, the injections I had to give myself, the chemo, “chemo-brain”, the radiation, the shortness of breath, the hot flashes, the hair loss, the emotional and mental side effects, the weight gain, etc. etc. E-T-C. I worked really hard all year – to say the least. So, what did all of that work amount to? I wanted to hear “You’re cancer free”. I’d even come to learn (and accept?) that I could very well hear things like “It got smaller” or “There was no change”. So, here it is:
Did you catch that? I know what you’re thinking. “In plain english, please” Well, the results are…not so good. They are less than ideal. The scan results showed that my mass grew. Not by much, but there was growth. As always, I took the news quite emotionless as it was being explained to me. I asked questions and handled the situation very pragmatically. Even as a write this, I’m very “matter of fact”. Sometimes I find that when I explain it to people, I’m very matter of fact even though what I feel inside may not exactly match up. The oncology team decided that at this point, there was no need to move forward with treatment – but that I’d have to come back for another scan in 3 months. Apparently, they are not even certain if the growth is due to the cancer itself. There is no way to tell at this point. It could be some left over inflammation from radiation.
And so, IF my next appointment shows that there has been more growth – then I may need to have a biopsy done. I have to say that the thought of having to do that biopsy again makes me feel ill. It was a terrible experience. I just don’t know how much fight I have left in me. I feel like I’ve used it all up over the year. But what keeps me going is knowing that this feeling right here right now – is familiar. I have felt that I had nothing left. There were times when I felt like I was running on empty. And then I found out that I had to forego more treatment. And well, I’m here. Somehow, somewhere – I scraped the very bottom of the barrel and found some strength and courage to get me through it. I’ve done it before – so I can do it again, right? Well, that’s what logic tells me at least. But we all (should) know that humans are not powered by 100% logic.
BUT – I know that I’m thinking ahead right now. We don’t even know if I’ll need to move forward with treatment with my next scan. I know that what I’m doing here is trying to prepare myself – even while knowing that there is no possible way anyone could ever prepare for something like this. I know that we all do this sort of thing to try to protect ourselves. We do this as a way to put up our defences. The problem with this is that it pulls us away from what’s happening right now. And what’s happening right now is that I’m better. Things are better. It’s time to slow things down, quiet the noise and remind myself of this – over and over again.
Things are better.
And things will get better.
Things are great.
Also, since when do I ever give up? Sometimes I feel exhausted and defeated but I never ever give up when it comes to those I love (including myself).
My next professional journey
I’m entering an interesting and exciting professional chapter in my life. Apparently, the way that I’ve approached it was in a very Carolyn-type style sort of way – as pointed out by some friends and colleagues of mine as soon as they found out what my process was. haha. Ask me when you see me in person or if we chat over the phone. I thought about my past accomplishments and put some trust and faith in my own experience, process, intuition and judgement – and things worked out.
On that note: Things will always work out – as long as you stay true to yourself and put up a fight for who and what you love.
I was recently asked an interesting question: “What is your most recent obsession?” My response: “Knowing about what it takes to win battles”
This year’s TedXToronto theme is “Thresholds”. I found out that I was nominated to speak at the city level (Toronto) via a lovely note that was sent my way. I suppose I know something about surpassing mental, emotional and physical thresholds ;).
Wish me luck. It’s already an honour to have been thought of to represent Toronto on a Ted stage.
Thank you for the spa treatment!
Do any of you remember this?
Shortly after I was diagnosed last year, I was asked to speak at an event with an audience of entrepreneurs (I wrote about it here). At the end of the event, the host, Gwen made the announcement about the Tilt campaign. I was so touched.
For most of last year, I was in the thick of treatment and so I was not able to go. I wanted to make sure I would be in a state when I could really enjoy the experience and when it would not harm my treatment process. I finished treatment (hopefully for forever) in February 2015. And the time called for me to really treat myself a few weeks ago. So, I went. And it was INCREDIBLE. The only service my health situation affected was the full body massage. My masseuse did not focus as much on my chest area (where my mass is) as much as he would have normally would. By the way, the full body scrub and massage was the best one I’ve received to date. He massaged areas of my body that I had no idea I LOVED being massaged. Oh…boy. I will be back for sure.
The day started at 11:30am and ended at 8:30pm. I went alone. I did not touch my phone. I did not read one thing. I did not jot down one note. I had made the decision not to for a few reasons. During the beautiful 3 course lunch I had on the terrace overlooking Elm street, I noticed that everyone was glued to their phones. Even couples and groups of friends who were in the company of one another were on their devices. It just re-enforced the decision I had made to not be engaged with anything but myself and what was happening in the moment. When was the last time you spent something like 11:30am to 8:30pm not consuming content and not contributing content? A full day of being by yourself and with your own thoughts. Some quality time with being “bored”. It turns out, it wasn’t so boring because – well, I’m not boring 🙂 I was amused, inspired, relieved and happy. It was so lovely.
I went in to the spa day with a heavy head and heart and I came out with more clarity, with a bunch of revelations and feeling peaceful. Thanks so much to Elmwood Spa, Gwen, Hip Urban Girl, Tilt.com – and the 26 people who funded the campaign to get me to the spa. It was so incredibly thoughtful and I am so grateful for each and every one of you who made it happen.
Blood Health Campaign in The National Post
Did any of you pick up last Saturday’s issue of The National Post? I was featured in the patient perspective in the National Blood Health Campaign.
I was approached to write for Mediaplanet’s Blood Health Campaign from a patient-perspective. I suggested writing about one of the things that have shifted the most over the year – and that’s my relationships. More so how I handle them. Most people (whom have not had cancer) assume that the hardest part is the chemotherapy, losing your hair, feeling weak, having chemo-brain, etc. All of the medical stuff. While those things were tough – the physical and medical side of the treatment was a piece of cake compared to the non-medical stuff. In fact, this is usually the case with young adults. Young adult cancer is an entirely different ball game. I’m always happy to share this with others – or you can learn more about it here.
Here is a piece I wrote on relationship tips during your fight against cancer. it’s one of the many things both those fighting and those supporting a fight need to be aware of, be reminded of or pay extra attention to.
P.S. Even the editors learned that it is not a good idea to give me limits and constraints – because I’ll break them. Always. haha.
…is growing back 🙂 There’s only been a select special few whom have seen me without my wig on. My hair is growing back super black, thick and wavy! I’m not sure when I’ll ditch the wig – but right now it’s definitely long enough to pull. Weee!
5:00pm. July 2nd 2015.
It took me a while to write this one. Yes, a few days. Wait a minute – more than a week! There was a lot of heart pour through the process. Every single time I began to work on this post, I became overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions and decided to take a breather. But I knew that it needed to happen. Not necessarily the writing part – but more so the process it takes in order for me to do so. And now, I feel much more at peace. I can say that with each and every thing I wrote about above, I walked away with some really interesting insights and learnings. Scratch that. I choose to walk away with interesting insights and learnings.
Recently, I’ve actively given myself some introspective time. Not that I needed to try hard to because through it, I had to work on something for the National Post (mentioned above), an interview on HerVolution about advice I’d give to my 12 year old self – and to everyone, and have been reconnected with some of my mentees and former employees. These happenings have reminded me of what some of my core values/non-negotiables are and what I have worked really hard to realize, learn and practice. There will always be room to learn and grow – for those who choose to make room for it. Core values are extremely important and I’ve realized that whenever I am upset, angry, sad or frustrated – it usually is when my core values have been trampled all over on.
I often think about the advice I would give to my (future) children. It reminds me to listen to my own advice, to forgive myself for when I have let my core values temporarily slide (as long as I get back on track) and to forgive others. We are human, after all. Right? Although, someones I wonder. Beep Beep Boop.
I’m going to leave you with some thoughts on Fear-based vs. Love-based behaviour and decisions. It’s something that’s been on my mind as of late. I want to share this commencement talk by Jim Carrey I came across. Yes, Jim Carrey – as in Ace himself. It’s a good one and it really hit home for me on many fronts. If we chat soon – remind me to tell you why! Enjoy it. Maybe you’ll take something away from this as well:
“Beware of the unloved. They will either hurt themselves or me”
“Fear is going to be a player in your life but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts worrying about the pathway to the future – but all there will ever be is whats happening here and the decisions we make in this moment which is based in either love or fear”
“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect.”
“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love”
“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is”
“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world”
“You will only ever have two choices – love or fear. Choose love and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart”
As always, thank you so much for reading. It means so much to me that you take the time to do it. Really, thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is personal. Very personal. And it’s really scary. But I have nothing to hide. This helps me. It’s a bonus that (according to thousands) it helps you too. I am proud of who I am – including all of the substantial journeys and experiences I have chosen to learn from. Like this one. It’s by far – the biggest – and will likely be THE biggest in my life. And I am so proud of it!