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October 23 2009, 4:24 PM You know, it’s odd. In spite of the happy clarification on the grim statistics, I find I’m still feeling a little shaky. I’m not lying prostrate on the kitchen floor, but neither am I just reeling with feisty optimism, just oozing determination. I’m kind of down, kind of growly at the cancer. I’m in a bit of a slump this week. I’m resenting the cancer cells and lumps in my body – they’re scaring me, chasing me, and I’m tired of it. I want a break, which of course just isn’t possible.READ MORE >
And yet, somehow I feel that this is OK, this not feeling OK that I’m feeling. It’s allowed. I don’t have to be “up” all the time.Much as that would be nice for me and certainly make the people who love me feel more comfortable, it would be unrealistic. Not to mention a little annoying. It would lead to a place called Crazy, or Lance Armstrongville, and I’m no bike-riding, rubber-bracelet-hawking, cancer super-franchise. At least not today. Today, I’m just a person who got hit with the cancer stick and isn’t too happy about it. And I think I have every right to be unhappy about it. Living with cancer can take a lot out of a girl. Sometimes you howl at the moon, sometimes you come at the cancer guns-a-blazing, and sometimes you hit the kitchen floor, or crawl under the duvet. Everything goes. Right now, it’s just not going so great. And while I do truly appreciate the efforts of family and friends to cheer me up — especially just by letting me know that I’m loved – it’s also OK to let me be a little low. You are even entitled to roll your eyes and flash your middle finger at the surly grouch currently inhabiting my person. God knows I would. Just a word to the wise: whatever you do, do not (not ever, but especially not today) start with that schtick about cancer being a gift or a lesson or a resolution of some dark long-buried trauma, or I’ll sock you one, I swear, and then we’ll both be on the floor. Misery loves company, after all.
It's a moment we've been waiting for: another long weekend! For many, Victoria Day weekend is seen as the official launch of summer. The weather is getting warmer and drinking coolers on the patio sounds like an inviting way to kick-back and de-stress after a long winter. But before we break open those 2-4 (24 bottle) packs of beer, let's consider some alternative ways to have a fun and relaxing long weekend.READ MORE >
Get Moving.Numerous studies have shown that exercise reduces stress and helps us relax. According to Livestrong Magazine, this relief occurs in our cells and our minds. Telomeres (the protective coating around our cells chromosomes) are shortened by stress and lengthened during exercise, to offer protection against premature aging (one of the many effects of stress). On the other hand, if long enough and at a high enough intensity, physical activity can get us into "the zone" - a place in our minds where we obtain absolute focus on the task at hand and forget the things that were troubling us. You don't have to go to the gym if you don't want to. Your physical activity can be a bike ride, speed-walking the dog, going for a hike, a run, or a swim (if the weather decides to cooperate). Don't hesitate to pick something that fits your style. If you would rather have some structure when it comes to exercising, check out these 3 quick and easy HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training) you can do at home.
Meditate.Put your mind at rest for a little while. Instead of focusing on the "millions" of things you have to do (or drinking those thoughts away), embrace the quiet. The crazier life gets, the more we forget that taking time for ourselves isn't selfish. It doesn't have to be yoga (even though yoga is awesome!). You can spend your quiet time in a warm bath, on your bed, at a park... wherever is a quiet place for you. This process has been shown to reduce stress and increase general happiness. Sound weird? Not sure where to start? Check out this quick guide to meditation for beginners.
Try Something New.What's that thing you've been wanting to try but haven't gotten around to yet? Try it this weekend! Often times it's the things that actually make us happy, relaxed, or excited about life that end up slipping through the cracks. With a little extra time this weekend, why not try out that new recipe, learn that skill, join that Pilates class or whatever it is you've been putting off. It might become the hobby you've been looking for! Fun Fact: Hobbies actually help us live more stress-free lives. Carving out time for the things we like minimizes the impacts of chronic stress by giving us a much needed a break, a social outlet (if the hobby involves other people), and improving our mood. Find out more about the benefits of hobbies here!
Have A Drink*
*non-alcoholic.Obviously, it's not always possible to steer completely clear of alcohol. Spending time with friends and loved ones is important and, on weekends like these, gatherings often include or revolve around alcohol. Not saying you should avoid these events, but maybe you can sip on something a little different while you're there ?
- Carbonated water: if you're looking for a little bubbly
- Smoothies/Fruit Juices: in moderation, these can be healthy and refreshing alternatives
- Mint Tea: the menthol inside can double as a muscle relaxer and stress relief agent
Name: Karen Age: 27 Occupation: Recruitment Advisor Age when diagnosed with breast cancer: 27 Breast cancer type: Breast Cancer, Hormone Positive/HER-2 positive Breast cancer stage: IV, metastasized to bone Treatment: Currently undergoing 9 months of chemo/adjuvant chemotherapy – then TBD Tell us a fun fact about yourself that has nothing to do with cancer I love painting! I don’t consider myself a Picasso by any means, but I have several of my paintings hanging in my apartment What’s your go-to pick-me-up song? There are quite a few – I have a specific “chemo vibes” playlist that I have on repeat the day before and the morning of chemo rounds. My favourite song on there is Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” Currently really digging Bruno Mars “What I Like” as well How did you discover your breast cancer? I felt the lump myself, and made an appointment right away. It was initially dismissed as an infection, but when antibiotics didn’t do anything and the lump continued to grow rapidly I went back and went through the ultrasound/mammogram/biopsy process. What went through your head when you received your diagnosis? I immediately thought about my family and friends – how was I going to tell them? What did this mean for me? How much of my life was I going to miss out on? What’s the craziest thing someone said to you after being diagnosed with breast cancer? “At least it’s breast cancer and not something worse” and also “Well, you’re going to get a new pair of boobs!” Who or what is/was your biggest source of support throughout your experience with cancer? My family and friends. I have been absolutely blessed with an amazing group of people in my life who have really rallied around me, especially in times of need. What is/was the most difficult part of being a young woman with breast cancer? Dating/relationships. It’s hard enough to navigate the dating scene anyway, let alone when you have a diagnoses like cancer, how do you let someone know? Is it fair to bring them into this situation? What’s something unexpected you learned about yourself as a result of having breast cancer? That I’m capable of pushing through what seems like the darkest days and continue to be positive and happy – I’ve learned to appreciate what’s important in life and to be grateful for what I do have. In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to another young woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer? The diagnosis makes it feel like the world is crashing down all around you, and you don’t know how you’ll ever make it out of the rubble – but fight, fight hard one day at a time. Pull your army in close, educate, and advocate for yourself. Sometimes it can feel like the diagnosis has taken over, and you’re just a shadow of your old self, but don’t let that happen – you’re still YOU!READ MORE >
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For more #YWMBC profiles click here.
Mother’s Day has discomforted me for years. Post-cancer, my family issues are more complex. I never had a burning desire to have children. I was too busy with school and my career but I thought one day I might change my mind, especially as I got older. When cancer came, I wondered whether that burning desire might show up. It didn’t. I was too depressed to focus on but enduring each day. My post-cancer journey led to a number of heart-wrenching life changes. I lost my job, left my husband and my home, took care of my dad through a heart attack and triple bypass surgery, and now have been diagnosed with PTSD triggered by my cancer experience. Now with a new partner I understand that not wanting children was partly about my husband. If things had been different with my husband, if I had been with my new partner earlier, or not had cancer, I would have tried to have children. It is too late. I am too old. I am too menopausal from Tamoxifen and chemotherapy. My OBGYN says it would be a “miracle” if I got pregnant. In fact, I am considering a prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy because of my uncertain BRCA1 status. I cannot talk about my feelings with my own mother. My mother is alive, but in many ways I haven’t had a real mother in least a decade. In fact, now in therapy, I realize another reason why I didn’t truly consider having children was because she instilled in me the message that her own children – myself and my brother – seriously hampered her career achievements. Children or career; I internalized that message. In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and received a lumpectomy and 15 radiation treatments. She does not – or perhaps does not want to – understand how her 100% curable stage zero cancer is comparable to my stage 1-2 cancer, treated with the ‘deluxe package’ as I call it: lumpectomy, SNB, 19 weeks of chemo and 50 shots of Neupogen, 37 radiation treatments, cording and lymphedema, 10 years of Tamoxifen, and now PTSD. Why “can’t you get over it” she asked one day, “like I have?” The hurt, misunderstanding, and perhaps denial, those words convey is immense. I have other sources of comfort thankfully, including my new partner who also didn’t discover he wanted children until it was too late. I visit a lot my friend’s adorable three-year old little girl and look upon her as my niece. Looking at her smiling face reminds me how simple things and being in the moment can bring joy. I enjoy spending time with my almost adult god-daughter who is a funny, smart, and mature young woman. I have always thought of her as ‘my own.’ Perhaps ironically, my father can be the most understanding. My father, who wanted children so badly, he tells me that nothing else mattered in his life, and who, with his own history of mental health challenges, supports me in my struggle back to happiness. -AnnonymousREAD MORE >
It's MOTHER'S DAY this weekend, so we thought it fitting to take the time to remind you how awesome moms are. Whether biological mothers, step-mothers, adoptive mothers, mothers to pets, mother-figures to those in their lives, mothers in the past or mothers right now, here are 5 lyrics from Beyoncé (soon to be mother of three!) that describe why we think these women run the world.READ MORE >
1. "I dream it, I work hard, I grind 'til I own it." – FormationWe all know it, but moms tend to be the ULTIMATE multi-taskers. Whether they stay at home or go to work, their job is never done. Juggling numerous responsibilities, like: running a business, keeping loved ones fed and healthy, driving kids to soccer practice, spending time with the ones they love, walking the dog, and being the number one fan are just some of the ways moms have proved their superwoman status over the years. And they own it all! They can do whatever they put their minds to and they always encourage us to do the same.
2. "Every diamond has imperfections, but my love's too pure to watch it chip away." – All NightNothing beats a mother's love. Regardless of how we feel about ourselves, we can always count on moms to think we're the best people in the world. These ladies are the people who love us when we've messed up, encourage us when we're feeling blue, give us "just because" cuddles, go the extra mile, and do SO much for us - rarely asking for anything in return.
3. “...endless power, with our love we can devour.” – Who Run the WorldMoms have a power within them that is fueled by love - love for life, love for their family, love for their pets, love for their friends, and love for those they take care of. And, just like a mama bear protects her cubs, moms are never happy when those they love are picked on. Yes, they are still full of sugar and spice and everything nice. But, if you rub them the wrong way, you better WATCH OUT.
4. “When you hurt me, you hurt yourself. Don't hurt yourself.”— Don’t Hurt YourselfMoms have a way of being in charge because of the sweet spot they hold in our hearts. No one wants to see a mom hurt, sad, and DEFINITELY not angry. Because, if mom's not happy then nobody's happy. Moms run the show... and it's not manipulative or bossy, it's just smart.
5. “I woke up like this. We flawless...” – FlawlessRegardless of all the running around they do or whether they feel like it or not, these women have a beauty that shines from the inside out. Moms will always be the most beautiful people in the world because of the love, grace, and selflessness it takes to fill that role. Whatever their age, health, or circumstance, we can all agree that these ladies are FLAWLESSLY beautiful without even needing to try.
Let's make sure we treat all the moms in our lives like the QUEENS they are this weekend.
Happy Mother's Day!