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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A Gift Redirected

A&P, COFFEE, SANTA CLAUS

A&P, COFFEE, SANTA CLAUS (Photo credit: George Eastman House)

In the last several years, I found Christmas to feel so rushed. Regardless of how prepared, it arrives suddenly, seemingly unannounced, passes and leaves me saying, “where did it go?” This year was a little different. Of course, the obvious is true…mom isn’t here and she was so sadly missed. Last night was the hardest. I found myself moved to tears several times as I struggled with the reality that she’s not going to be here. Maybe the other part of it was that through losing her, I’m just so much more grateful for those that ARE here and those that choose to be in my life. This year, it seemed as if time slowed down, just a little bit. Every day leading to Christmas was still filled to the brim with things to do, but I savoured them and it seemed to make the season feel longer. Yet there was still something missing, there always will be.

Today, I thought it would be a good homage to my mom, in her absence, to donate what I would spent on a gift for her, to the Canadian Cancer Society. Merry Christmas mom.


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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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So what colour is it anyway?

I knew almost immediately after mom was diagnosed that I wanted to do more to raise awareness for gynecological cancers. So much has been done in recent years to bring breast cancer to the forefront and I wanted to do the same for this. But where to start? I thought I’d at least look for what the ribbon colour would be to represent gynecological cancer. That should be simple enough, shouldn’t it? A google search resulted in finding that it is teal…or lavender…or purple….or specific to uterine cancer, orange. What? Which is it? Predominantly, it seems that more sites suggest the colour that represents gynecological cancers is teal. The fact that there was such confusion over something as simple as the colour of the ribbon used to represent these forms of cancer just illustrates how minimal our awareness is! There is NO question when it comes to breast cancer. Little for even colorectal cancer as that’s been much more advertised as well. There has been so much focus has been placed on breast cancer and while it is very important, so are the cancers that afflict the female reproductive system. While breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women, gynecological cancers can be very insidious often being called “the silent killer.” Often women don’t even know there’s a problem until it’s too late.

Frustratingly, as I researched statistics about women’s reproductive cancers, I learned that uterine cancer isn’t even mentioned on many sites. I found that the Canadian Cancer Society promotes October as “Women’s Cancer Awareness month!” Hallelujah! However, I was deeply disappointed to see that uterine and ovarian cancers were not even mentioned in the information on that page! The truth is, information is scarce on these subjects in comparison to many other forms of cancer. It’s one of those things we don’t talk about….it remains unsaid. It shouldn’t. We need to talk about it. We need to research it. We need to know more. So that brings me back to the ribbon. What colour is it anyway? Since it seems more sites indicate it is teal, I’m going with that. I’ve even found a site that sells t-shirts and other paraphernalia in support of gynecological cancers and they say it’s teal, so who am I to argue?

A blog I follow called “takebackteal” ( http://wp.me/p2O04L-6P ) is doing it’s part to raise awareness for ovarian cancer (whose ribbon colour is also teal).  A fun means to raise awareness that they have initiated is called “Turn it Teal Tuesdays,” in which participants wear teal in support of ovarian cancer. Bravo. What else can we do? It seems like such a gigantic undertaking for one little voice in the void. How did the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation make awareness of this form of cancer a household phenomenon? How did they get to the point they are at now? You can even find toilet tissue that’s pink for the cause, which, in my opinion…considering where it’s used….blue (colon cancer) and teal (gynecological cancers) would be better choices anyway. At least from a logical standpoint. For now, making people aware of the ribbon colour is a very small start. But I need more ideas…..

Please don’t misperceive my mission. I don’t want to detract from the work going into Breast Cancer research and treatment. I merely believe there’s room for more to be done to promote research, awareness and treatment of the other cancers that are specific to women’s bodies. Now, I just need to figure out where to start. At least I have a ribbon colour……


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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.