somanythingsleftunsaid


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Time waits for no one….

Flowers 3

Flowers 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last 12 months have been dotted with a few monumental events. My milestone birthday, acceptance into a prestigious art show in the U. S., another seminar with my mentor and favourite artist, starting a campaign to raise awareness for women’s cancers (the inside story)….I’ve enjoyed a few benchmarks.

On this anniversary of mom’s passing I can’t help but imagine how she’d have reacted throughout it all had she been here to witness it. I know she’d be proud…she was always quick to brag, much to my chagrin. There’s been much that she’s missed this past dozen months, but not more than I’ve missed her.

While today is tough, it’s been made brighter by some very special people. One who has been patient with me as I move through a few different (and not overly pleasant) moods. Dear friends have sent me notes to let me know they’re thinking of me. Another sent a song they thought could offer comfort and one friend called just to talk. Without them today would have been much harder.

 


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Don’t look, can’t tell….

Health

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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And the countdown begins

Happy new year

Happy new year (Photo credit: Amodiovalerio Verde)

Tonight is New Year’s Eve and the last day of my mission to perform acts of kindness throughout the month of December. The idea was that these acts would help make this month and my first Holiday Season without mom a little easier. Well, although I don’t think it this season any easier, it did serve as a good distraction. It gave me something else to focus on rather than how different this Christmas would be. While this is the last day I’ll be planning an act of kindness, it will not stop tonight. There are so many things that can be done, I’ve barely scratched the surface. I will continue to do random acts throughout the next year. I plan to dedicate more time to raising awareness about women’s cancers. One day, hopefully, removing the mystery and ignorance surrounding them and even contributing to their cures. Wildlife and nature conservation and rehabilitation are also very close to my heart…as a wildlife and nature artist, I believe our wild and natural world deserves our respect and protection. There are many, many ways that I would like to be more involved in here as well. So for today, I created a care package to send to an organization whose sole occupation is to perform daily acts of kindness to our wounded wildlife. Salthaven is a volunteer wildlife rehabilitation and educational facility. Rehabilitating injured and orphaned animals is their primary function. They also serve to educate the public about our wild world. I have collected some of the items on their wish list and included some of my art cards for their use as well.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy, kind and prosperous New Year.


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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 (www.thebdayproject.com). Another man is just wrapping up 366 DAYS of random acts of kindness (www.366randomacts.org). 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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Shut the Front Door!

Holy Cats! Can it be?!

While attempting to retrace my steps to find a website that I located while researching gynecologic cancers, I found another site that is completely in line with the movement toward awareness that I’m hoping to achieve! It’s a section of the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) website. There you can see the campaign they’ve launched to raise awareness about Gynecological Cancers, called “Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts about Gynecologic Cancer.” ……how clever!

It has great downloadable materials and fabulous information.  There are survivor stories, print materials, buttons and badges for websites…..it’s like the universe sat down and read my blog! Fabulous! There’s only one problem……the colour they’ve chosen to represent gyecological cancers is PURPLE! While I had considered this colour as it was mom’s favourite and consequentially mine too, but it seemed more sites indicated teal. If using purple, it leaves teal to be solely associated with ovarian cancer. Can I still change my mind on the colour?? I know, I know – the colour is less important than the information contained within, however, it’s the graphic designer in me shining through, thinking of how to use these things in marketing a campaign. Just as pink has become synonymous with Breast Cancer, I hope my chosen colour will become associated with gynecological cancer awareness.

I hope you’ll have a look at the site. It’s filled with great information. It’s really set my day off to a great start!


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Halloween

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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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.