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Don’t look, can’t tell….


Health (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

In all cases of cancer detection, the odds of successful treatment increase with early detection. In the case of women’s cancers this includes, in Ontario, yearly physical exams and testing, or at least it did. In November 2012, a 11.1 billion dollar deal with Ontario’s doctor’s to “modernize” physical exams, it was deemed that a full annual physical isn’t necessary in “healthy” adults. Well, you’re only healthy until you’re not, right? Apparently, tests and the frequency of these tests will now be based on your individual needs. This would be great if everyone was as proactive as they need to be when it comes to their own health care. I fear that it will now increase the incidence of advanced cancers perhaps undetectable to the patient themselves. Women’s issues have been so taboo for so many years, I worry women will put off mentioning them until their next scheduled full physical exam, which, remember, will only include the tests deemed necessary. What if it’s an issue that you mistake for something else? Which is something that I saw in my mom’s case. I think this new “modernized” approach to our health care leaves far too many things to chance. I think it leaves too many women vulnerable to unnecessary risk.

What do we do about it then? Well, now more than ever it’s important to talk about women’s cancers. Information is key. Women need to know the symptoms and feel empowered so that they are able to push forward in the best interests of their own health care. Talk to your parents, your kids, your siblings, your friends. Learn your family history and discover your risk factors. It’s not a time to rest on your laurels thinking that the doctor knows you best. They only know what you tell them, and now, are no longer required to do the tests that may discover the issues you may be having.

I should state that not all doctors think this is a good idea. An article on CBC news with Dr. Stephen Cudmore expresses his concern over the new guidelines. In it he comments that he’s found underlying health problems in otherwise healthy adults. I can only hope that more doctors feel this way.

So start talking and learning. Don’t let knowledge of women’s cancers remain left unsaid, and undetected.


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Click for a Cause!


Donations (Photo credit: Matthew Burpee)

Can you say CRABBY? That was me today. Between a splitting headache and an egregiously delayed printing shipment for work, I was impatient to say the least. Time for a break. I headed out to the local Tim Horton’s to get myself a tea. It seemed a good time to apply the principle that altruistic behaviour improves mood. Something had to help. My intent was to pay for the order of the person behind me, however, no person drove in behind me! Drat. Foiled! So I drove through town with my tea wondering what I could do. It’s a small town, it didn’t take me long to drive through and head home. So instead, I worked on a painting that’s been on the board for a couple of weeks. That’s when inspiration hit.

I’d heard of sites that donate to charity based on clicks received on their websites. I decided to check it out. I found this site called Freenuts that listed 10 good sites to do this very thing.

First I tried Free Rice. This site allows you to learn something all while doing something to help end hunger. For each correct answer, you donate 10 grains of rice to needy people. (Who counts them anyway?) This was addictive. I quickly got caught up in the vocabulary challenge. I love words and it was a lot of fun to test my knowledge, all without even creating an account! Which you can do if you’d like to keep track of your donations.

Next I travelled to Care2. After creating an account I could get started generating donations to rain forests, baby seals, animal rescue, oceans, wolves (notice a theme?). Considering my penchant for wildlife and nature I was instantly drawn to that and began happily clicking away to save our natural world. I learned that my clicks helped feed a rescued primate, protected 11,000 sq. ft. of big cat habitat, saved 7.4 sq. ft. of rainforest today and more.

Then I went to Games that Give where you can choose games that sponsors donate money to charity as you play the games listed on the site. Oh my….dangerously addictive. It’s a great way to spend some time and you don’t have to feel guilty, you’re doing it for a good cause!!

The age of the internet has opened up doors to increase awareness and now increase sponsorship to help very worthy causes. I encourage you to give these acts of kindness a try. They’re free and can be done in the comfort of your own home. For a day when you’re feeling crabby like I was, it’s a good way to spend a little time.

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The Colour of Kindness

Kindness Blooms

Considering, I’ve spent quite a little time gathering ideas from various web sites and gathering inspiration from others who’ve done similar acts of kindness, surprisingly, I didn’t plan my first day. As strange as it may sound, I just couldn’t decide what to do. For my family, today is a significant day. It would have been mom’s 63rd birthday. Traditionally, I’d buy her a poinsettia, or some other “Christmassy” plant and help her put up the tree today. It wasn’t until I was on my way to town to run some errands that I decided on what I’d do.

I was nervous. What if I get caught or someone recognizes me? But really, WHY would that worry me? Is it so unusual to do nice things for strangers? Apparently.

I stopped at the local market and picked up some small plants – hardy ones that could weather a little chill. At the dollar store I picked up little cards and wrote the following note….”ACTS OF HOLIDAY KINDNESS. You’ve been ELFED! Merry Christmas!” and placed the little card inside the plant. I waited in the parking lot and watched for my targets, waiting to find someone who seemed just a little down or grumpy or generally preoccupied and gently placed the plant on their front window after they made their way to into the store. I had people watch me curiously as I went about my mission. Some smiling and even one person looking at me as if I had three heads.

The nervousness faded and was replaced with warmth as I travelled home. I already wanted to do something else!

While I was at the market I also purchased a violet in mom’s favourite colour which I’ll keep with me. Happy Birthday mom.

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It’s coming…..

christmas 2007

christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)

Christmas is coming. I am one of these annoying people that do the countdown in the middle of July. I’m also one of those annoying people who starts gift shopping for the next Christmas in January and is usually mostly done by the end of October. I love Christmas. I always have. I love the entire idea of it. I love the get togethers with friends and family, I love the food, the snow (when we have it) and I love finding and giving the perfect gift. Did I mention I LOVE Christmas?

I’m not new. I know that this Christmas will be extremely difficult now that mom’s gone. I have already experienced a bit of that just in putting up the decorations and buying gifts…it’s amazing how many things there are that jump out at me that mom would have loved. Dad has said he isn’t looking forward to Christmas either. I don’t blame him. It’s going to be hard.

I also know that the best way to preserve the Christmas Spirit is to do things for others and volunteering is known to improve mood and fight depression. In his book, “It’s Good to Be Good: Science Says It’s So,” Dr Stephen Post sites many studies which indicate that altruistic behaviour plays a large roll in overall happiness and health. Knowing that there are going to be days that I will be sad, I’ve decided to do something to combat it. Throughout the month of December, I’ve decided to complete various acts of kindness. I can’t say they’re random, they’re not, I’ve been planning this since the end of October! There are many people doing this now. I’ve seen the blog of a lady that completed 38 random acts of kindness on her 38th birthday ( Another man is just wrapping up 366 DAYS of random acts of kindness ( This idea isn’t new and I’ve done random acts before. I’ve paid for the order of people behind me in the drive-through at Tim Horton’s. I always hold doors open for others (so to me, that one doesn’t really count!) I donate to local fundraising initiatives etc, etc. So I’ve experienced the feel good feeling that you get when you do something nice for someone else. I’ve also been the recipient of acts of kindness too! I’m hoping that this will help ward off at least a little of the sadness that is on it’s way this December while lifting the spirits of others as well. So this may be a little selfish on my part.

As I’ve said here before, it’s so easy to be caught up in day to day life and put things off until tomorrow. Now, the hustle and bustle of the season consumes our time as well. So, as I do my planned (and random) acts of kindness, I’ll post them for all to see. While the reasoning for my endeavour may be a little selfish, I also hope it will inspire others to take even a few minutes to be just a little more kind to each other and to our environment. As Robert Bateman, one of my favourite people, has said, “If we can’t take care of each other and nature, then what’s the point?” Indeed, what would the point be?

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I love Halloween. I always have. Call me a big kid, but I’ve always loved the chill of a good fright, the mystery of a good costume and the fun of decorating and carving pumpkins. This holiday only comes second to Christmas…a close second at that.

I’m always teased that I decorate more for Halloween than for Christmas, and maybe I do, but only so our house can continue to live up to the moniker of “the haunted mansion!” However, this year I was afraid my enthusiasm for Halloween would be dampened. You see, it was a year ago on Halloween that we learned mom’s cancer was terminal. Dad called around supper time to let me know the bad news. Mom had been admitted to the hospital a few days prior due to the complications the tumour was creating. She was in horrible pain. I remember sobbing in a heap on the floor, my husband trying to console me. I didn’t greet our small group of loyal halloween-ers last year either.

The last few days have been hard. Don’t get me wrong. I decorated, even more than last year as that fell a bit to the wayside with mom being so ill. I celebrated the little trick or treaters and made the best treat bags ever this year (which is easy when you only have 6 kids who visit!) I even wore my halloween hat…one that has a bloody knife attached to the top. I explained I had a terrible pumpkin carving accident. I made mummy wiener wraps and pizzas for supper and shared them with one of my longest friends and namesake. I enjoyed the night, which I was afraid I wouldn’t. Now in the following days, I am no longer distracted by the preparations for the spooky holiday and I’ve found the memories of my mom seeping into my mind. I miss her and she’d have enjoyed the fun of the holiday too. Even after all this time, I still find myself thinking that I can’t believe she’s gone.

It’s been hard for dad too. He’s been doing so well. He’s working, helping friends and joining clubs. He’s even considering volunteering for the cancer society as a driver. He’s living, however I think that the time of year has really hit him and he’s sounding pretty sad. He’s never been one to talk about his feelings but he has lately. He’s mentioned Christmas is not something he’s really looking forward to. I will do my best to start new traditions. Ones that will not detract from mom’s memory but will maybe emphasize moving on with her in our hearts. He just says it’s not going to be the same without her and he’s right, it’s not. You can’t fill the void she’s left, never will, but it makes me want to try to live a fuller life in her honour. I don’t want to miss a thing.

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In the last several months I’ve been surrounded by some amazing people. Some have been my friends for most of my life. They are permanent fixtures. Occasionally we’d drift our separate ways, losing touch for sometimes years, but inevitably, we seem to find our way back and it’s as if we’ve never been apart. You all know who you are and I love you.

Some of these people I’ve only just recently met and we have, I hope, formed friendships that will continue throughout the rest of our lives. They’ve shown me, a veritable stranger, much understanding and kindness all at a time when I was losing faith that people like them still existed.

Some of these people, I’ve never met, or met only very briefly. It amazes me that we’ve been able to form such meaningful and close friendships without spending any time in each other’s presence.

The fact of the matter is, friends are friends….regardless of how they meet, where they are, and how long they’ve known each other. These friends have been godsends. They’ve renewed my faith in people and kindness and made me want to be more like them. They’ve been here through all the tough times I’ve had in these last few months. They’ve made me laugh, listened to me cry and rant (sometimes cried with me too), sat with me in silence and offered me encouragement. They’ve made me want to be a kinder person. You’ve become my “family.” You’ve stuck around when it could have been just as easy to walk away. You have no real ties to me other than being friends, yet you’ve been here through as much as any family could be. Thank you.

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Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving. Well, it’s MY Thankgsgiving. Having missed the festivities last week, I decided to celebrate it today with my dad. Mom was notorious for having huge turkey dinners at each of the 3 holidays that require them and now that she’s gone, those feasts fall to me. What I didn’t realize was the date. Today is Oct 14th. Which would have been mom and dad’s 45th wedding anniversary. I know it sounds terrible that I didn’t remember how significant this day was. The fact of the matter is, I have avoided thinking about the upcoming milestones that will now be devoid of my mother’s touch. So in hindsight, I’m glad I was able to get my dad to come for dinner. I’m also glad that more family joined us as well. It wasn’t the same without mom, but I think she’d be glad that we came together on a day that was already meaningful. So I’m thankful to have been surrounded by family today and to have honoured mom by continuing with her traditions. While I miss my mom, I am also thankful that through mom’s passing, dad and I have become closer. Happy Anniversary Mom.