Sorry folks, Canada is Closed

It has been a ridiculously long time since I have posted. I’ve even debated taking the site down. I wanted to focus on life and made a conscious decision to step back from Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 5.16.13 PMadvocacy and the cancer community for my own mental health. One can run away from many things, however they cannot run away from themself. In the gap from my last post, a lot has happened. One of the biggest events was celebrating my 10 year cancerversary. It’s a bit crazy to think that I have lived with cancer for a quarter of my life! You can read a bit about my thoughts here. This year marked 11 years as of April 15th. It’s been so crazy that the day came and went without pause.

A great deal of 2019 was spent persuing a dream I have wanted for the good part of 20 years, something that was a desire long before cancer ever entered my life. I had been close once before, but the timing wasn’t right. So, armed with more life experience and burning desire, I set the wheels in motion for a big change. Initially, it was a pie in the sky idea that given the complexity of my situation seemed impossible. What is impossible anyway?

You’re probably wondering, what is this monumental life change?! I’ll tell you. I have always had an interest in Japan and Japanese culture, ever since I was a kid, I joke that I might have been Japanese in a previous life, I mean who knows?! Anyway, when I graduated from university, I had planned to go there and teach English. I had job perspectives lined up and was ready to go, until my head betrayed my heart. You have to realize, these were the days before FaceTime and Skype, and I would have been very alone, I was fresh out of school and young. As adventurous as I was, I wasn’t ready for that kind of isolation, and it would have left my mom alone after losing my dad, so I began to doubt. Then it so happened that I landed a full time job. The last nail was in the coffin. I didn’t go. I blinked and life happened, so Japan was put on the back burner. After being diagnosed, I thought it was an impossibility, until it wasn’t. I literally have two regrets in my life, the first I can’t do anything about (thank you Euro), the second was Japan. So I decided to change that and fulfil my dream. 

Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 5.23.28 PMI spent the better part of last year working to achieve this goal by learning Japanese (I’m still terrible!); convincing my oncologist that this was a good idea; finding a Japanese site for my clinical trial and arranging my medical care, and getting a teaching job to support myself while I was there. It was a huge mountain to climb, an almost Herculean task. Surprisingly, as time went on, the pieces of the puzzle began to fit into place. My oncology team (mainly my superstar nurse Nicole) got approval to include me in the Japanese branch of my clinical trial, I got a job, I was slowly learning how to read Japanese, my Visa was approved, and I was set to go there in March. I was looking forward to seeing the blossoms in the spring, Kyoto in the fall, Osaka for the food, oh man the food!

Then COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, the sand had slipped though my fingers again. I was so close! It was devastating having to turn the opportunity down. The teaching team in Nagoya, where I was to live had been so gracious and kind, they were even looking for apartments for me. Saying I couldn’t go was a knife in my heart. For weeks after, I was severely depressed. Then COVID really happened. They say in life, you don’t always get what you want. But, sometimes you might just get what you need. If I had gone, I likely would have been stuck there, so in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t go. It took a global pandemic to stop me, but you had better damn well believe, I will get there one day. 

That pretty much brings us to present day. Not a whole heck of a lot is happening, considering that the world is shut down. So, in typical Gemini fashion, I have been Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 5.45.46 PMkeeping myself occupied. Music has been my saviour, art has been an outlet, curiosity is being fed by learning new skills. I am painting, writing, learning not one, but two new instruments, and I’m still learning Japanese. I am setting new goals, like being able to play a Tool song on bass. It’s a heady goal, just listen to one of their songs and you’ll hear why. It also brings me back here. Life these days are as surreal as a Dali painting. I was thinking that Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 5.41.58 PMit’s almost as if the world has been diagnosed with cancer. I see so many parallels between this experience and the one I have lived through and with for the last 11 years. The isolation, anxiety, learning a “new normal”, being hypervigilant, being scared. But, I also see the good. Neighbours helping neighbours, parents spending time with their children, people cooking and learning to appreciate the simple pleasures of life, learning something new, pursuing hobbies that they couldn’t do before because there was no time. Now we have no excuses. All we have is time. How we choose to spend it now will shape how we live later. As someone who has experienced this awakening before, it is my hope that we come out of this better, as individuals, and as a whole.

I leave you with something I wrote as a reflection, I didn’t intend to share it, but it seems appropriate here.

Beneath the routines of life lie the eternal and temporal.

Forces that march on even when we are paused.

Time waits for no one, yet it is fleeting.

Wrapped up in the details of life we forget to live, and time ticks on.

Time waits for no one and soon time has passed on, grey and old.

We look back with regret.

We did not LIVE, life at work.

Slaving for money and the spoils, the shoulds and woulds of routine.

Did we spend our time well? Squandered on monotony.

Not invested with those we love and cherish, until it’s too late and they are lost.

Our time spent on frivolous things, grinding away.

Moments slipping by until they become years.

Yet, all we have are moments and memories, in time.

Stay home, stay safe. Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 5.40.47 PM


Ontario’s Public Healthcare??

It’s been ages since I have posted, but fear not I am of good health (except for the flu…I’m better now!). Good health means I have been extremely busy in my personal life. I am writing today because I am seriously worried about what might happen to health care in the province I live in, Ontario.

Leaked documents have revealed the Ford government’s plan to open the door to the privatization of Ontario’s healthcare system. An expert with the Ontario Health Coalition says that the government’s plans “will undoubtedly compromise quality, safety and lead to two-tier health care.”

Send an urgent message to the PC government and local MPPs to demand that they protect public health care and scrap privatization plans.…/1FAIpQLScipV_9ddSf7IBaef…/viewform

If you’re part of the young adult cancer community, or you want to support us, please take a moment to sign this petition in defence of public healthcare.

[1] Toronto City News – Leaked Documents

If signing this petition isn’t your cup of tea, please make your voice heard by contacting your local MPP.
Be well,

Mesothelioma Doesn’t Have To Be a Death Sentence

I am long overdue for an update, but that will have to wait (just a little longer). I am posting today because I think this message needs to be heard. I tend to focus on my niche in lung cancer, but the truth is, its a big wide open field. For a very long time (think since the 80’s) the survival rate has remained pretty stagnant with few exceptions. So when one hears the word Mesothelioma, you can understand the fear it strikes on one’s heart. It was March 1998 when my family got the news my father was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma and given months to live. To his credit, he survived 16 months. Since that time, and for a long time, treatments didn’t change and neither did the prognosis. Until now.  Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 8.53.39 PM

On August 1st, it was Lung Cancer Awareness Day, I was supposed to post this then, but I held on to it deliberatly to make a point. Every day is Lung Cancer Awareness Day for me and my family, and for all those who have been touched by this terrible disease. So I post this today, because August 6th is Lung Cancer Awareness Day as is the 7th and 8th and so on.

The second reason I post this is because many people out there who have been diagnosed or have a family member who has been diagnosed may not realise that asbestos exposure at the work place is a work place hazard, and that often, there are class action Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 8.56.14 PMsuits or government programs (although they don’t advertise!) to help support both the patients and their families. In Canada where I live, asbestos and its products are not
manufactured or in use, however, oftentimes exposure can come from old materials such as drywall, pipe fittings, or coatings. So if you are planning on a renovation, or work in construction, it is wise to be aware of potential exposure. Asbestos is stable until it is disturbed, so it is advised that you contact an inspector or a remidiation company prior to any demolition or work. I will post some links to information and contacts at the end of the post. Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I welcome you to read the following article: Mesothelioma doesn’t have to be a death sentance, by guest author Gregory A. Cade of the Environmental Litigation Group, P.C.

I have worked as an attorney who specializes in mesothelioma, asbestos and environmental law for over twenty years, and in this time my firm, Environmental Litigation Group, has helped more than two hundred thousand clients. I have spoken to many people and I have learned about their lives, experiences, fears, I became close to my clients and I have learned what most people think when they hear that they have mesothelioma.

First of all, it is important to define what mesothelioma actually is, as some readers might not have heard about it until now. Mesothelioma is a rare, very aggressive type of cancer that develops after asbestos fibers enter into a person’s body. This disease is extremely volatile, in the sense that it can metastasize extremely fast and it can take either a few months to a few decades for the cancer to develop, after being exposed to asbestos. There are 3 main organs where mesothelioma can develop: the lungs (pleural), the abdomen, liver, spleen and intestines (peritoneal) and the heart (pericardial). There are rare cases in which mesothelioma develops in other parts of the body, such as the testicles.Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 8.57.49 PM

Throughout my career as an attorney, I have met many people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, the most common and aggressive form of this type of cancer. It is always heartbreaking to speak to them because you always feel and see the fear and hopelessness in their eyes. Many people would see a cancer diagnosis as equal to a death sentence. On top of that, because of its aggressiveness, since they are diagnosed mesothelioma, patients are usually expected to live between 6 and 18 months. This is why, most clients come broken and defeated, having already given up on the fight with the disease.

I believe that this is an incredibly wrong and dangerous mentality! To every person sick with this illness that comes through my door, I tell them to keep fighting, to never surrender. I personally know people who have lived over 10 years with mesothelioma. They do sports, go outside, eat at restaurants and they look great! Nobody would even think that they have cancer. As cliché as it may sound, I believe that cancer can be beaten and that nobody should ever give up hope.

In the last years, more and more treatments are becoming available to help cure cancer patients, or at least extend their lives. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, although they yield results, are not the only options anymore. There are precise surgeries which remove damaged tissue, medical trials that can help people, there are blood transfusions to strengthen the immune system, there are pills which help fight the disease and keep it from spreading. All of these methods are worth trying as they can be the difference between life and death.

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 8.54.11 PMOf course, because mesothelioma, and cancer in general, are such aggressive diseases, patients adopt a fatalistic approach towards life. I want to urge people who may find themselves in this unfortunate situation to keep pushing forward! There are so many wonderful things to explore and if you are given a chance to do them, why not take it? Indeed, there are odds that the cancer will still progress, but even so, remain hopeful! Some clients who combined exercising with healthy eating and regular treatment have survived for more than 5 years, some even more that 10! They have watched their children grow, have remained with their loved ones, have explored the country and they have grown as a person. So I must emphasize once more, keep on fighting, hoping and taking care of yourself because cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

Asbestos Information:Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 8.55.41 PM

In Canada:




A very special thanks to Gregory A. Cade of the Environmental Litigation Group, P.C.    2160 Highland Avenue Birmingham, Alabama 35205  (760) 696-7959

Be well,


Put a little jam on it

Happy Easter Fool’s Day. I hope all my readers and friends had a lovely day with loved ones, and to all those who celebrated Passover, Chag Pesach Sameach.

With spring comes change, so I have decided to take a chance and do something unexpected. I am starting a new business.

It’s no joke! I am now a Jamberry Consultant. Don’t know what Jamberry is, I’ll tell you what it is. It’s genius!

No really!!

If I were to actually tell you all the supremely cool things about Jamberry I’d literally be here all day. I will say they have revolutionized the beauty industry and turned it on its head!! Manicures that can be on-trend or customized to your personality and can be changed as often as you like or up to two weeks later and don’t break the bank. I mean it!! Their nail wraps are easy to use, and cost a fraction of a salon manicure!! But they aren’t just nails, they have hair care, beauty, and, see. I have started rambling!!

As it is, I’ve been trying to think about how to announce this. Considering what time it is now, You can see I wasn’t very successful. So I won’t beat around the bush, if you know what Jamberry does or if you don’t and are curious, I will be having an online party starting on April 13th, so stay tuned for that. I will also be hosting a small gathering on April 15th, but if you just can’t wait, you can always check out the amazing spring wraps and new goodies launching today and Put a little jam on it and check out my site, you’d be a fool not to 😉 (no more April Fools jokes I promise).

Be well,


8 Year Chemoversary

On this day 8 years ago, I had my last chemo infusion. Sure I’ve had lots of treatment since then, but no more chemo infusions. So as I sit here at the kitchen table, surrounded by those I love, snow blanketing everything, I silently give thanks for all that has happened since that day, and a lot had happened! So much so that if I wrote it all down, I’d be missing out on the laughter surrounding me. Suffice it to say, I am blessed immensely and have been, in good and bad.

So I’d like to take just a moment more and wish you all a Happy Holiday, whether you celebrated Hanukkah, or will celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, or Festivus. Be safe, be happy, be well.


T’was the Evening of Hope

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month and tonight is Lung Cancer Canada’s annual  Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 4.18.11 PM.pngCasey Cosgrove who was the MC and truly synonymous with this night. Casey was such an integral part of this organization and made a huge difference to so many people dealing with lung cancer by not only sharing his own experience but by being a relentless advocate for the cause. On a very personal level he was a dear friend who I admired and miss very much. My heart is hurting.

Tonight won’t be the same without Casey but we will carry on best we can and try to continue the work he was so passionate about.

The above was written by my dear friend Roz Brodsky (A 3x lung cancer survivor), her words captured my feelings so well, that I asked to share them.

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 4.26.28 PMI wish I could say that “if you didn’t know it was Lung Cancer Awareness Month, you’re living under a rock!”, but that is not the case. Most people I have asked were surprised. Well of course they were, we don’t have white/pearl/clear ribbons everywhere. We don’t have cement trucks with our message spread across it; we don’t really have walks, or Runs for the Cure. What we have is misinformation, apathy, and inadequacies.

I can’t tell you how many smoking cessation ads I have seen. Horrible in their depiction and so stereotypical that they add to the stigma and apathy. I am all for helping people quit, I personally believe we should treat an addiction, like an addiction, not a bad habit. I also think these ads should be part of a campaign strictly for cessation and illustrating ALL the diseases it is a risk factor for.

The sad part of associating these two things is that patients like so many others, and myself have to defend ourselves or tell people we are “Non/never smokers”. We shouldn’t have to, because we both have the same thing in common, lungs. The point being, it can happen to anyone at any age.

I have been radio silent this #LCAM because I have so much to say, but am so discouraged and tired of banging my head against the wall. I don’t know what it will take? It’s not the lives lost 1.59 million globally, or as my friends in the US will tell you #433aday, which is the number of Americans that die daily from this disease. We would take notice if a jumbo jet plummeted to the ground, right? Why can’t we see that this is happening daily!

I have posted a statistics laden post the last few years; I’m not going to do that again. What I Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 4.26.14 PMleave you with is, that Lung Cancer unbiased, it comes for everyone, regardless of age, sex, creed or colour, because we all have lungs. Anyone can get lung cancer.

Be Well


Remembering Lizzie

I have been struggling as of late to summarize and put to words my trip to Japan, so I will post that in another post, until then, please read this. Lizzie was a tremendous spirit and although I had only ever spoken to her via email and phone, he passing shook me to my core.

Be well,

from lizzie's lungs

As Lizzie’s mom, I have had the privilege of writing on her blog twice before today.  The first time was after her surgery, and what a great day it was. We had so much hope.

9d63822e-7960-42fb-9e5c-b5ba58686a45July 1st 2016 Three days after Elizabeth’s surgery, one day after Jack’s first birthday. Both milestones she was so grateful to achieve.

The second time was is Boston when Elizabeth was beginning a new trial drug. We still had hope. 

Today as I write this, I am reminded how Elizabeth could find hope in the smallest things, in the most difficult times. For those of you not aware, Elizabeth passed away peacefully on Feb 25, 2017.
d2f37b35-243b-49b2-9ab1-937081a5024fWhen you love someone as much as we loved Elizabeth, you believe you can protect them. To say we were blindsided by this terrible disease is an understatement. Elizabeth had an incredible will to live, and so much to live…

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Konichi wa Nihon

So today is the big day, day one of the IASLCs World Lung Cancer conference! After a few days getting our feet grounded after so so much travel, I’m ready to report! 

So far it’s a busy day (what an understatement). I type this as I wait for my second big session. I’ll be back later with a summary of my day, and a few highlights of the conference’s first day. Until then, you can keep posted by following on Twitter (@thesearemyscars, @iaslc, #WCLC2017, or #LCSM, or Facebook). 

Sorry I can’t live link, but I will later on. Blogging by phone has its limitations! 

Sayonara for now, 


It’s a jungle out here

life and breath: outliving lung cancer

Pretend for a moment that one hundred people are standing in front of you. The only thing you know about them is that they all have lung cancer. One at a time, each person comes and stands beside you and shares some intimate detail about their lives. Sometimes you sense that you have much in common with the speaker, sometimes little. In each case you get an overwhelming sense of their humanity.

You are thinking about how you would like to get to know some of them better when I drop a bombshell: only eighteen of these people will be alive in five years.

It shocks you but I assure you I have not told you this merely for dramatic effect; statistically speaking, this is an actual scenario. The five year overall survival statistics for all stages of lung cancer cancer are only 18%. At stage IV, that number drops…

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