Ups and Downs

Life has been quite a rollercoaster in the last few months, hence my notable absence from the Blog, writing, and working on These Are My Scars. November opened with an incredible opportunity to participate in a patient panel for Lung Cancer Canada. On November 1 LLC presented a national survey on the opinions of Canadians and lung cancer to kick off lung cancer awareness month (Yes November is Lung Cancer Awareness month). That evening I was asked to be keynote speaker at LCC’S second annual gala. I can’t tell you how honoured and humbled I am to have been asked to be part of these amazing events. It is amazing how sharing your story can touch so many people.  From there, I went directly to Young Adult Cancer Canada’s annual conference. Four days of connecting and re-connecting with amazing young adults from all across Canada. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it is to spend time with others who have shared an experience like yours, YACC makes that happen and I am so thankful to them for it!

The second week of November brought me to Ottawa to celebrate the marriage of our very own Naomi and the love of her life Palmer. It was such a privilege to be part of their union and Naomi looked radiant and just beamed all day. Also around this time, I became caregiver to my mom who fell ill with a mystery illness. I did my best (all be it a feeble attempt) in taking care of well, everything! We went to test after test and waited on pins and needles for a diagnosis. Because it involved her breathing and lung function I was immediately anxious and terrified of what it could be. Thankfully in December we got a diagnosis and she is being successfully treated and well on her way back to health!

At the end of November, I was asked to speak and present at a patient conference in Halifax. What a wonderful opportunity to share my story and perhaps help patients navigate though their diagnosis. Halifax is a great city, despite presenting, I had enough time to explore, eat, and even catch up with a friend, you can’t ask for better.

The first week of December rolled in quietly, but soon after, I was invited to Montreal to present my experiences with Xalcori (the ALK inhibitor I’m on) to a group at Pfizer’s annual general meeting. I have worked with Pfizer at a few events and felt it was a valuable opportunity to share my perspectives as a patient. The response was incredible. I never thought that by sharing my story I would be sharing hope, but all too often, those who work with lung cancer patients or in lung cancer research only see the bad or lose patience, so I think it is refreshing and inspiring when you can give people a glimmer of hope.

Things calmed down a bit until the holiday where I got sick, but then something I dreaded happened. Six weeks after getting married, our dear Naomi passed away. Her spirit and inspiration are one of the things that made me start These Are My Scars, and I can’t imagine where to start without her, but I’m inspired by her life, if she wanted something, she did everything in her power to achieve it. She led a wonderful life and I am so proud to have been called her friend. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, I found out that our friend Cori had passed away two days after Naomi. Cori was truly special, she wasn’t a part of the larger cancer community, but was a personal friend who was the first person to volunteer to share her story and be part of These Are My Scars. I remember when I first met her, she didn’t want to share her story, she wasn’t ready, but less than a year later she took a chance and bravely shared with us. As I write this, I still cannot believe my dear friends are gone. I miss them profoundly! As the new year is upon us, I am filled with renewed inspiration and focus, I know both Naomi and Cori would want These Are My Scars to succeed, and they are a testament to how powerful sharing our journeys are. Now more than ever, I believe that we need to share our stories and our scars, to connect with each other. For some of us it is healing, for others it helps them to feel like part of a larger community. I do it because of both those reasons, but mostly I do it because I don’t want the next person to be diagnosed to feel hopeless or isolated.

Wishing you all a blessed 2013.

AM

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