I am sitting here with my belly sewn up from yesterday’s surgery – hurts like stink and dizzy with pain meds. Nothing is as bad as last year and I recall my bucket list trip to the US Open 2 weeks ago – my birthday present. Court side seats to the women’s and men’s finals. It was an adventure to New York, my first time and experiencing the electric feeling of tennis fans in the huge stadium was amazing. Tennis is my therapy, it is the carrot that was always there to get me onto the courts and forget that I was a cancer patient each round of chemo. Even when I was exhausted, the focus and strategy was what my brain needed to make me feel good and it was an accomplishment in my day, even when I had to go for a nap to recover. Going to the US Open was so special. Even when our plane was delayed on the tarmac while they fixed something, I could not be happier. The flight attendant asked me why I was in such a good mood compared to the other complaining passengers. I explained that this was a celebration of surviving my cancer treatment last year and nothing could be as bad as that. Tears in her eyes, she wished everyone had that attitude – so do I.
This week I started my watercolour classes to learn more techniques to express my new found love of art. Next will be acrylics. My friend just went through some difficult times which takes you to reassess life – What about the French Open in Paris next year? Check. Yes!
My Bucket List
I’ve been on a journey, an exhausting long year
To the edge I have travelled, to the deepest of fear
I put back the pieces and from broken I rose
From pain and anxiety, it’s courage I chose
To make myself bigger and share what I’ve found
That today’s worth living so start looking around
Say yes to those trips that you tried to delay
Life’s an adventure starting today
I love that feeling of riding deep snow
Say yes to your fears, you know where you’ll go
Past boundaries set before cancer came
Overcoming your limits, life wont be the same
Swimming for medals or running a race
Winning in tennis, new battles you face
Or travelling to Europe and tasting the wine
Or watching world tennis at the baseline
Surfing in Maui under blue sky
Wind on my face as I parasail high
Its a bucketlist of places and things I must do
Loving life on a journey, that’s the new you
Cancer’s a memory hoping not to return
But the gift that it leaves is what we can learn
I was given a beautiful gift by a patient – It says my name but it is everything of who I am and what I believe. The artist had taken the time to understand me and my values through this blog and expressed it visually and so beautifully. I truly believe this experience has changed me and I like this person who has no barriers and is not afraid to tell patients that I had cancer and life can come back and we can beat this, living each day in the moment and loving it. There is life beyond.
I started my first official watercolour painting class this week, you have to do all those things that are on your bucket list since you all of a sudden wonder what you are saving this list for. I am not afraid to try… love the process not just the product. Look hard in the picture and you can see Look Good Feel Better, FacingCancer.ca, facing cancer together symbol, my positive thinking cards, Nano my dog, the tennis outfit on “n” and all the things I love in life.
It is clear that as a professional, some would find it too revealing to say they have cancer – people may think that you will not be there for them, get less referrals, could be sick again – but you bring far more….. understanding, inspiration, no more barriers, respect and pure truth and happiness if you are just yourself. I hope I can encourage people to go back to work and risk inspiring and show people there is life beyond cancer and how this journey changes how you see life. There is such a positive side to everyday, no complaints.
It all started as I cleared out a cupboard and put a game on the table called table talk. I pulled out the conversation stimulating questions and one of them read: “ If you were to get a tattoo, where would you get it?” We sat and thought – both very conservative doctors, not something that we would do. “Maybe a Leafs tattoo on my arm” my husband replied laughing. I said “maybe a breast cancer ribbon somewhere that is not obvious…no, maybe the areola tattoos, yes maybe that” I replied.
My bilateral mastectomies were curative, not preventative and, as many of you know, the affected skin is removed with the tumors as well as much as possible of the breast tissue. Included in the mastectomy is the areola and nipple, leaving a horizontal or, in my case slightly diagonal linear scar – much like the seams of a dress, very neat and inconspicuous. A wonderful result, I could ask for no better. I wear clothes with pride and love my life beyond cancer treatment. I never look back unless to ground me never to complain.
I was connected with a restoration tattoo artist through a friend. It was pleasantly surprising to see the 3-dimensional art that reproduces the areola image – quite amazing actually and certainly got me interested. Then there was a global segment on Restorative Tattooing and there was Kyla.
I was told she was the best and now I knew that and booked in with her.
For all those interested, you can check out this on her website at
It is OHIP covered for breast cancer patients with mastectomies.
I ask myself – it is not that anyone loves me any less without the defining finishes of reconstruction but there is a certain completeness that feels normal and I must say it is one of the few procedures I have had on this long journey that I am entirely looking forward to.
Being BRCA 1 positive with a sister, daughter, cousins, nieces, the level of impact of this cancer is pretty hard to take. Sometimes it feels like it is spreading like a deadly virus to all these lovely innocent people. I want to show them how fabulous you can be with mastectomies and cutting that risk from 85% to 10% is not all negative – you can still look great. Many people have difficult decisions to make in prophylactic and curative surgery but hopefully I can inspire you to lower your risk, love to live and look and feel great.