Celebrating 400 posts: is there a cake in there somewhere?

Thank you to blogger Tracy for this monumental image! http://tracycorrecaminos.blogspot.ca/2012/02/cuatrocientos-seguidores-cuatrocientos.html

Thank you to Spanish, Portuguese or possibly Catalan blogger Tracy for this monumental image! http://tracycorrecaminos.blogspot.ca/2012/02/cuatrocientos-seguidores-cuatrocientos.html

I have reached the milestone of 400 posts on this blog. I started it September 21, 2007 (coincidentally my daughter, Tessa’s, 16th birthday) as the mom blogger for Canadian Living magazine. I was a two-years separated, single—or I much more prefer the term, double—parent with three kids ages 16, 14 and 7. The blog has seen me through the rewards of parenting and the challenge of cancer and lymphedema, and with cancer in my rearview mirror it’s now about the longterm effects of that fight as I get back to work. I can’t say so much about my kids anymore as they all have control over their own social media selves and have varying degrees of approval regarding my posting about them. I’ll have links to Tessa’s latest dancehall videos in a future post if she says OK 😀

And instead of cake, we had Dufflet Pastries sticky toffee puddings for dessert tonight. Oh yes, that’s how to celebrate!


My life as a sloth: Now, this is funny!

That was a depressing post yesterday because I was, well, depressed. I did as I said I should, which was go look at cute animal videos, and found this one.

It is very cute, very funny, and pretty loaded with swear words and inappropriate things, but it made me howl with laughter, so here goes. You are forewarned.


True Facts about Sloths


I hope you liked it! The creator has many more: check him out on YouTube.


True facts about my status

I have a double-barrelled day of fun tomorrow: follow-up appointments with my oncology surgeon (one-year anniversary of my bilateral partial mastectomy and lymph node dissection) in the morning, and with my oncologist in the afternoon. I think there’s bloodwork in there, but no mammogram.

I’ve made a brief list of subjects to touch on:

  1. What’s with this damn fatigue, really?
  2. How much longer will my right breast keep shrinking?
  3. Will my finger- and toenails ever return to normal?
  4. Can I have my radiation tattoos removed, and are there any special instructions?
  5. When do the docs start counting survival?
  6. Is there anything special about survival with triple negative breast cancer that isn’t covered in the media?
  7. Will I be getting any extra MRIs or scans since my tumour was never found?

That’s all I’ve got right now. I’m not worried so far.

Wish me luck!



This has nothing to do with cancer, promise!


My first foray into cutting hair was my boyfriend who, after hiding the punk haircut I gave him under a thick stocking cap for months, still eventually married me. Then I very cautiously cut a stray lock of hair or two off my children’s precious heads. Years later now, I know my limits. I did not cut off my hair after chemo started the job, and I will not cut the family dog’s hair either. After squeaking out an extra month and a half from his regular time for a clipping, I took this dog to BooBoo Pet Grooming:


Clover, four and a half months after his last grooming, rocking that little woolly mammoth look.

Clover, four and a half months after his last grooming, rocking that tres-casual, little woolly mammoth look.

After working for literally HOURS like a dog on crack to get his bejewelled beribboned holiday hair topknot doodad OUT of his hair, this is what we have:



Which is constantly reminding me of this guy:

Sid, the sloth from Ice Age, and a movie we watch on the holidays just because it's cold in the movie, just like it is here.

Sid, the sloth from Ice Age, and a movie we watch on the holidays just because it’s cold in the movie, just like it is here.

But, the hair on his head is still longer than mine. Aw, I did write about cancer after all! Forgive me, please?


It was a sweet HAPPY birthday!

Happy birthday bliss by Tessa and Luka

Happy birthday bliss by Tessa and Luka, collage by Tessa

Mother’s Day this year found our house in tatters emotionally, psychologically and physically—my surgery was coming up, I was very anxious, I was sleeping far too much and ignoring everything I could.

Several weeks later, one week after my partial mastectomy, my birthday dawned to a breakfast in bed of French toast, trimmed slices of oranges, warmed maple syrup and a wide mug of café mocha on a tray decorated with ribbons of sparkly gauze and gem flowers and a ball bouquet of gardenias. Wow. And there was a Birthday Girl pin for me to put on.

Then Tessa and Luka led me outside my bedroom to show me the decoration they’d put on my door (top right photo). I have always encouraged artistic expression on our bedroom doors, and the collage of Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Chopard, Bulgari and Piaget jewellery that Tessa made for me in Grade 7 was getting pretty faded (!!!, and for devotees of The Secret, I called these items to me every day for the last 10 years or so, and no luck), so these birds who are clearly outside their cage and the pretty flowers will now inform my thoughts.

Then they led me down the stairs to find the hall and kitchen literally festooned with Happy Birthday banners, Happy Birthday streamers, all kinds of birthday balloons taped up, the door to the basement covered with pink birthday princess wrapping paper. In the hall was a HUGE map of the world (I’d been taping up little ones for all of us to sharpen our geography skills and fantasize about where we would like to go one day, but this one is a serious whole-world map).

Tessa had baked extremely health-conscious cupcakes—applesauce replacing oil, whole wheat flour replacing white flour, honey replacing white sugar, and a cinnamon cream cheese icing—and put them on her tiered tea-service plate, with candies and gem flowers and totally sweet little toppers that said “Love you Mom.”

There were gifts, all of them sentimental and revealing deep thought. The one that touched me most was sort of an affirmation of how much the kids know that I have loved them all their lives. Long story warning:

For Tessa and Graydon’s first birthdays I made sweet First Birthday cakes—foreshadowing Tessa’s healthy cupcakes some 22 years later!—carrot cakes with crushed pineapple, applesauce and no nuts. I hadn’t starting baking and decorating my fancy cookies by then, so the cakes were quite elaborately decorated. Luka’s first birthday cake would be no different. I went to McCall’s—the best by far cake baking art supply store, classroom and online presence—and got the blue gel dyes, blue and green and silver dusting sugars, silver drags (known as these teeny silver balls that go on cakes and cookies) (that I researched to see if a one-year-old should eat, and found no research, so decided to stay on the safe side and keep the blue icing and silver balls on the adult part of the cake, not where my little Lukey would be eating) (which brings again my desire to see if those silver things are actually OK to eat—see this link to http://www.snopes.com’s message board on the subject if you, too, are curious…).Back to the store: I also picked out plastic decorations—a pale blue old-fashioned tricycle, hot air balloon, a stork, baby booties, an intricate cutwork banner that said “Our baby’s first.” SO CUTE!

Luka’s first birthday , December 21, fell on a Friday, the party was set for Saturday. Graydon hadn’t been feeling well the week before. I took him to the doctor the morning of the 12, and was called back that afternoon to take him to Sick Kids for stat bloodwork, then back to his paediatrician on the 14 for a full exam and workup in anticipation of an upcoming appointment at Sick Kids. That appointment was 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, Dec 17. That’s the day Graydon was dxed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and we didn’t leave the hospital for two weeks. I stayed at Graydon’s side 24 hours a day, slept on the window seat at night (fitfully), and Al brought Tessa and Luka to visit. But the cake, and the first birthday party as it was planned, never happened. I still have the decorations packed away.

Tessa and Luka bought me a new box of baby cake decorations for my birthday, and I think it echoed the Mother’s Day that didn’t really happen, to show me how much they know that I love them. I love my kids. They are everything to me—Tessa, Graydon and Luka—and the reasons I get up every day.

Sorry for such a long post, but I’m having a surge of energy, and I gotta grab it and take advantage while I can.

My logo/gravatar

My Aunt Karen has been reading my blog and thought a comment or two might have gone astray because she saw another woman—and I thought maybe she saw my gravatar. Then I realized I couldn’t put a pic of my gravatar in my reply, so here is a post all about it. Is this what you saw, Karen?

My sister Juli designed this logo for my cookie-making business—My Beautiful Cookies—in 2001. I had a website designed, a magazine cover featuring my cookies pulling in business, and all systems were a go when Graydon, then 8, was diagnosed with leukaemia. I cancelled the orders for cookies that I had already taken—thank God I hadn’t cashed any deposit cheques—and that was the end of that. But, I still make the cookies (see post for Feb. 18 and Feb. 26), and I use this extremely cute illustration for my gravatar. Thank you Juli!!!

Hair, and does Luka even notice mine—or lack thereof—anymore?

Last week I got the fourth hand-knitted hat from my friend Annie in the post. It was so cute, and I was so happy, I got Tessa to take a photo of it with my camera, and then I sent an email with the photo to Annie, from my phone. When I didn’t hear anything back for a couple of days, I thought, she is so busy! And then I felt guilty for not being at work myself!

I figured out today that none of the emails I have written on Yahoo on my phone have actually gone out. They say sent on the phone, but there’s no record of them when I check on the account on the computer. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

That is confounding. But what makes me smile is Luka’s reaction to the photo when I showed it to him when he got home. By that time I had taken off the hat, wig, necklace, and changed into hanging-around-the-house clothes.

I handed him my phone with the above photo on it. I said, “Check out the new hat that Annie sent today.” He gave it a good look, and handed back the phone, saying, “That hat looks great! You totally don’t look bald in it!”

I love him.

How feeling crummy led to feeling grateful…


Even if you feel good, I’ll bet looking at this illustration makes you hurt just a little, somewhere. Thank you to http://criticalscience.com/chronic-pain-psychosocial-interventions.html

I cannot say strongly enough how I hope the next seven and a half weeks of Taxol chemo fly by. If I were to word that hope the way I want to, the keyboard of this computer would light on fire. Taxol SUCKS. Not to complain, but the aches that come with this chemo, mixed with the hand-foot syndrome pain of the last chemos, which is supposed to stop but has not yet, and just general fatigue, is making me too miserable for even me and Clover to bear.

Right now I am hunkered down on the couch under a huge blanket with my feet and hands exposed, waiting for the pain pills to kick in so I can feel human and move without feeling like I’m going to snap a bone or grind a joint to powder. This is supposed to be from day 2 to day 7, and I am using up my pain pills pretty fast. Ug. Now I will try to stop complaining and move on to more appropriate use of my awake time—thanking people.


One thing feeling lousy does is make me realize how ungrateful I have been. Remember the amazing fundraising that Tessa did, and all the people who gave so that I could get a wig of real hair, which I so, so appreciated? Have I written to all of those people to say thank you? No. Did I send a real thank you to my friends at work for the amazing gift basket, stuffed with goodies—real goodies? No. I made cookies and brought them in to the office for everyone, but I’ve done that other years. There are people who sent money who haven’t heard boo from me. I am ashamed, and feeling grinding pain and feeling sorry for yourself because you are bald (and it’s not a good look for you), and your fingers are shiny red and splitting, and skin is hanging off them, and you can’t spell the word “answer” (I’m writing a note to Luka’s teacher, and I can’t spell the word—where does the W go? after the N? after the S? with a silent S at the end? or the R? why is there a W? and I couldn’t think of another word to sub in, then I wrecked the note because I tried the W after the A, and had to throw it out), and your intestinal tract will never work without pills again, and you have to be no more than 20 feet from a bathroom at any time, well, why not just get down on yourself for not thanking people???

So here are just a few of the people I have not thanked properly, outside the wonderful people who contributed to my wig, because those are private thank yous I will be writing.

Zoe, dancer and chef extraordinnaire, who upon hearing that her very good friend Tessa’s mum had cancer, did what every girl worth her salt does, and ran to her kitchen and cranked out three HUGE casseroles: Zoe’s Pasta Bake, Turgetti and Chicken and Cheese. Each one would have fed a family of 10, so we cut them all up and put them separately in freezer bags. They have come in so handy when we want a comfort food but there is no one to cook it and no time even if we did. Thank you Zoe!

Scott, our next door neighbour and godfather to all three of my kids, who has snowblowered out our driveway at least twice (but I think more, for sure), and this morning came over and shovelled the driveway, walk and porch. Thank you very much!

calendula creme pic Mara, my friend from work and a very, very talented artiste, who said, upon hearing that my hands and feet were on fire with hand-foot syndrome, “I know what you need for that!” and sent to my house the very next day Thompson’s Calendula Creme, which not only stopped the burning, but kept it at bay longer than the other creams I had collected. Thank you Mara for the fabulous cream, and for the mint tea, protein powder and Aztec chocolate drink, too!

Pam, my longest-time best friend, who came to my rescue with a large infusion of cash, and does not employ big scary guys to come to my house and remind me how generous she is! Thank you Pammy!

Annie, a friend from work and beyond, who knit me my first bald head winter toque, and followed that up with two more, each one sent under separate cover to my house because she understands the special excitement of getting something in the mail when you are home every single boring day of the week.And each one is softer than the last one. Thank you Annie!

And that is it so far. Talk to you all later!