Monday, November 30, 2009

- A Very Different Life

I was just speaking with someone tonight about my perspectives, this cancer, and life in general. Sometimes, we don't know just exactly what we believe until we hear ourselves say it, and then....well, then, we know.

Perhaps in audibly declaring something aloud, we proclaim it to be true; we draw a line in the sand; we acknowledge that what we've just spoken out loud is the truth, and that it's what we believe. And I guess that's what happened to me tonight.

We were talking about someone who has battled the Cancer Dragon and now appears to be free from all disease. This person has gone the distance, beaten the illness and is once again able to live a normal life. He is now free to resume normal activities, spend time with his family; go out and do the things he used to do; in short, be a 'regular' person again.

Except that he cannot. Now that it's all over, he is finding he's depressed. There's a certain hauntedness now; a dread, perhaps, that It Will Return.

A very normal, emotional and psychological reaction to a difficult set of circumstances once thrust upon him is now occurring, making normal life for him very 'not normal'. Sometimes the emotion hits its worst during the event, I suppose, and sometimes, it's in the aftermath.

It's completely understandable. Cancer changes you. It changes your life, your plans, your viewpoint on things. It arrests you in the middle of your very ordinary existence and thrusts itself upon you, whether you like it or not. It's very merciless that way, and each one of its victims (although I don't like that word) must find ways and means to deal with it as it happens.

Anyways, back to my conversation with my friend. As we were talking, before I knew it, the truth that I believe deep down came out of my mouth. "Well," I said, "I would rather live one more full year of fruitfulness and productivity and die at fifty-one than live until I'm seventy and die unfulfilled."

There is was...the truth that I believe...surprising even me. And I meant it, which means I didn't have to go to the bother of retracting it or re-explaining it.

"People stop living long before they die."

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out."  
                                                           - Oliver Wendell Holmes 

For me, the most dreaded words in the entire English vocabulary are these: ordinary, customary, mundane, boring, dull, run-of-the-mill, and usual. Yeccchh!


I don't want to be ordinary! Or dull! Or boring! Bland! There's enough of that everywhere! Enough banality! I want life to be exciting! Fun! Invigorating! Zesty!

Ok, so maybe zesty isn't for everybody. I mean, we can't all be nuts like me! We can't all have fun bursting into a chemo ward wearing silly wigs and Groucho Marx glasses (ok, so I haven't actually done this yet, but give me a couple of's in the planning stages....)

And okay, so there have to be accountants in this life, and oncology doctors, and...well, you get the idea. And if Obama wore a clown face, it might not be so good for his public image. I get that. 

But sheesh! Can't we have a bit of fun in life? Beat the odds? Kick up our heels and laugh in the face of danger? Y'know, be kinda James Bond-ish? 

It would help us all so much to have a little more fun once in awhile!


So here are some pics from the film shoot it turns out, I didn't get my head shaved - just a short cut. We started with an interview between Liliana and I at the Jewish General.....

Then on to La Coupe, on the corner of Peel & Sherbrooke.....

.....and got the new do firmly in place. Maral was my very sweet and special hairdresser - she did such a great job of reassuring me, and cut just enough to be practical, but not enough to make me have a meltdown!

Can you tell I'm a wee bit too tired to smile here? So far, though, fatigue is the only side effect of the chemo, so no complaints! No nausea at all.

My bed is calling me-e-e-e-ee......   ;)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

- You Raise Me Up (Josh Groban)


You Raise Me Up    by Rolf Lovland & Brendan Graham
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.


So-o-o-o tired. Slept all weekend. Feels like a flu, only different. But no nausea, and no pain, so it's not so bad, is it?

It's been seven days since Chemo #1 started last Monday, and Timmy's here, lying on my lap, snoring his cute little cat snore. I've never had a cat that snored, but now I do. He's been especially attentive, following me  to wherever I go, jumping up and snuggling for yet another catnap. And so it's one week down, 23 more to go.

Tomorrow is The Big Cut - Liliana and the Film Crew are meeting me at the hospital after one of my doctor's appointments, and we're going to trek down to trendy La Coupe to get my lovely locks shorn off before they start falling all over the floor.

I was dreading it before, but now I think I'm okay with it. And it's gonna be fun wearing some of those wiggies, I can tell you. I've got some very creative ideas for dressing up to go to the hospital on Chemo Days.

I have been having some interesting cravings since the chemo started. I have this hankering for creamy stuff - grilled cheese sandwiches (never eat 'em), vanilla milkshake (would have 'em every day but don't wanna weigh 420 lbs.), and for lunch today, all-dressed pizza with pineapple. Tonight, Debi's coconut milk soup.

So it's either the chemo, or I'm pregnant.

Oh, Lordy, let it be the chemo!

Have a good week,

Love, Wendy

Friday, November 27, 2009

- Peace Like A River

Well, it's late and I can't sleep, so I figure I might as well blog. 

I was overwhelmed tonight with a deep sense of peace in the midst of everything, which is really just so wonderful.

Peace is a gift, when you think of it . . . a real gift. You can't purchase it, either for yourself or for someone else.

Advertisers talk about "peace of mind" and "Freedom 55", but at the end of the day, even if you do everything right, play your cards properly, eat well, stay fit, and go to sleep early every evening, you cannot guarantee that you will have peace by the time your head hits the pillow.

And then there are other times where, like this situation I'm in, the last thing you expect to show up is a deep, profound sense of peace and well-being in everything. I mean, it's counter-intuitive, isn't it? To be ill with a potentially life-threatening disease, and yet to be at perfect peace? Yet that's where I'm at. And I'm finding it quite remarkable.


Well, initially, Timmy offered to sit up with me while I blogged. I'm sure his intentions were good, but....

He managed to make it through the first few lines, anyways, and then I could see his eyes getting heavier...

I guess I'm the lone blogger tonight. Timmy will no doubt take credit for this, somehow, though.

As promised the other day, here are the latest wiggy pictures. On Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 1 pm, I am scheduled to have my lovely locks lopped off (before they fall off in bits and pieces all over the house and Timmy starts choking on my hairballs rather than on his furballs).

Liliana, her film crew and I will be making our way over to trendy La Coupe at the corner of Peel and Sherbrooke in downtown Montreal, where my first-time-ever head shave (or close cut - haven't decided yet) will be immortalized in film.

I may laugh; I may cry; I may do both. Both are perfectly acceptable. But as they say, "Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry, and you'll need to blow your nose." So I'm thinking about that. Ha!

I purchased a lovely paper crown from party store "Giggles" today, with which Liliana has promised to knight me "Chemo Queen" immediately after the deed is done. She currently calls me her Chemo Princess, but offering to let her film me getting my hair completely shaved or cut off warrants an extra-special, prestigious kind of ceremony, don't you think?


 The top two picks are still:


"And that," said Forrest Gump, "is all I know about that." I had such profound things to say a couple of hours ago, but watching Timmy sleep has dulled my profundity, and so I, too, will go off into the land of slumber.

May you be blessed with much peace in your journey, also, both now and in the days to come,


Please note: If you would like to receive email notifications of all new Blog Postings here at "Adventures With Wendy", please email at my personal email address & I'll add you.

To avoid being spammed by evil web crawlers that prowl for email addresses, I am putting my email address here in code:  wendy"@"   Copy and paste this into your email program, but be sure to remove the quotation marks around the @

Bless you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

- Bend In the Road

This morning, as I was pondering what to write in this Blog today, my new and "breast friend" Neri emailed me. Neri (see photo below, far right) is a fellow breast cancer survivor and one of the facilitators from our Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer support group. She sent me this beautiful poem:

BEND IN THE ROAD    Helen Steiner Rice

When we feel we have nothing left to give
And we are sure that the song has ended.

When our day seems over and the shadows fall
And the darkness of night has descended.

Where can we go to find the strength
To valiantly keep on trying
Where can we find the hand that will dry
The tears that the heart is crying.

There's but one place to go and that is to God
And dropping all pretense and pride.
We can pour out our problems without restraint
And gain strength with Him at our side.

And together we stand at life's crossroads
And view what we think is the end.
But God has a much bigger vision
And He tells us it's only a bend.

For the road goes on and is smoother
And the pause in the song is a rest.
And the part that's unsung and unfinished
Is the sweetest and richest and best!

Helen Steiner Rice had many blessings in her life, but also several tragedies, such as the death of her father at a key point in her life, and the suicide of her husband, which left her a widow at a young age. Yet, decades later, her marvellous poems continue to inspire millions.

I was thinking this morning about how glad I am that my plans were disturbed and that I did not go to Hawaii after all. 


Why on earth would I say that? Montreal, Quebec, Canada in the winter is proving better for me than Kona, Hawaii, land of sand, surf and sea????

Honestly, I was thinking today just how blessed I am to be here, right here, in the land of about-to-be-ice-and-snow. Glad to be here, going through what I'm going through, even though it's not always pleasant, and being here, spending time with . . . you!

Because the crazy thing about it is . . . it feels . . . well, right. It's just feeling right to be right here, right now . . . meeting these precious ladies . . . going to support groups . . . having the amazing opportunity of doing this documentary . . . Liliana and her film crew  following me through this journey of cancer . . . and yes, even going through chemo. 

And it all has to do with God using us to help others. It's supposed to always be about others. It's not always supposed to be about us.

You see, my friends, that is the very reason I was going to Hawaii in the first place . . . I wanted to help others. To teach English to internationals for awhile, and then to move on out into the world to help other people in other countries.

But then I got Breast Cancer. 

Except that now, He seems to be using me to help others right here. And in a far larger, greater way than I ever imagined. 

And so . . . I am content.

Here I am, singing Menopause for the girls, 
since chemo for Breast Cancer brings it on!

So to quote from Helen's poem above,  

"...together we stand at life's crossroads
And view what we think is the end.
But God has a much bigger vision
And He tells us it's only a bend.

For the road goes on and is smoother
And the pause in the song is a rest.
And the part that's unsung and unfinished
Is the sweetest and richest and best!"

Two parts of the Bible that seem to be JUST for me lately!!! ~

Proverbs 19:21
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

James 4:13-15
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 

Yup, I really get both those verses, now. Got 'em, Lord! Committing them to memory!

And so, the journey continues. It will be SO interesting to see where it leads! The most important thing? My hand is in His, and for now, that is all that matters.

Be blessed, my friends, and walk softly through this life.  

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  - Plato

Love and prayers for you,


- David's Moving Back to Italy

Okay, this is so hysterical, it deserves its very own posting:

After a two year loan to the United States, Michelangelo's David is being returned to Italy.

His Proud Sponsors were:


Have a great day!

Love, Wendy

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

- Yesterday Was Chemo Day (Joy In the Journey)

So yesterday was chemo day, and I promised you lots of pics:

Liliana Komorowska, the Film's Director, along with Directory of Photography, Tomi Grgicevic. Soundman Zoe Mapp (Soundwoman? Soundperson?) is in the back.

Looking a little tired, here - I'm not a morning person! (I must've forgot to tell my agent...."Don't book film shoots before noon!!!)

Tomi & Liliana

This is me receiving some info from Anita of Hope and Cope, the amazing group at the Jewish General Hospital that supports cancer patients and their families. Anita is a Hope and Cope volunteer - she's also just given me the gift of a beautiful blanket to keep me cozy while I'm getting chemo. 

Hmm.....feels just like Timmy, except it doesn't shed. Or poop. Behave yourself, Timmy - you could be replaced. (Just kidding, honey!)

Tomi and Beata Nawrocki, Liliana's Personal Assistant. Her camera takes both video and stills.

Dr. Victor Cohen, my Medical Oncologist. A sweetie. A bit camera shy (um...but he didn't even know the crew was coming so we kinda caught him off guard. Sorry, Dr. Cohen!)

Meeting my Primary Health Care nurse, Kathy Saba, for the first time. What an absolute sweetheart she is!! And she laughed at every single one of my jokes! I LOVE her!! You see? It doesn't take much to get on my good side.

You know the saying, "It takes a whole village to raise a child"? My new motto is: "it takes a whole village to nuke a cancer". And the Jewish General Hospital has, bar none, the most amazing team I have ever seen in my entire life.

We've had quite the history of sickness in my family: countless hours in ERs and in every ward imaginable with my mother who was ill on and off for most of her life (two cases of TB before I was born; then lung, kidney & two breast cancers in the 60s and 70s, and then chronic COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) that eventually killed her.

My dad had a pacemaker installed when he was 80, and was diagnosed with terminal cancer at 88.

Including the last two surgeries in September and October, I've had eight surgeries in all. Won't bore you with all the other ones!

So between my mother, my father, and me, we've done a lot of hospital time in four Montreal-area hospitals, and I just want to go on record as saying that I LOVE THE JEWISH GENERAL HOSPITAL! They absolutely rock.

Well, dear readers, my anti-inflammatory steroids kept me up until 4 am, so I'm pretty wired, and I'm off to our final Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer support group tonight. My life as a star is far from over, as Liliana and crew will be inconspicuously taking over the meeting room with their cameras, boom mic, bags, wires and clipboards, but it's such fun, no-one will care!

We'll all squeeze around the conference table and eat chocolate cookies provided by Neri, and we'll laugh, we'll joke about our booblessness, and we'll no doubt shed a few tears as we wish each other well on this long and winding road we call cancer.

No doubt you've got a long and winding road, too, whether it's illness, or family troubles, or personal stuff that invariably hangs around to try and rob us of our Joy in the Journey, but take heart, dear one.....

When life gets just so overwhelming that you want to quit and find another script that's a little less demanding, remember that there is a Father in Heaven who loves you SO MUCH that He is willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING for a relationship with you.

That's what's kept me thus that song "Amazing Grace" says, "tis grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home."

IMHO (that's computer shorthand for "In My Humble Opinion"), you and I were created for a relationship with God, and as St. Augustine said, 

"Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord.

Don't settle for restlessness! Reach out, risk walking on the water, stretch out your perhaps feeble hand of  faith, and like Doubting Thomas, say to Him: "I believe, Lord - help my unbelief!" 

He honors prayers like that, and He'll honor yours. Here's a prayer and a song for you.

Joy In the Journey   Michael Card

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

To all who've been born in the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And freedom for those who obey...

God bless you, my friend, and faint not . . .

The end is not yet!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

- Pink Glove Dance

Ooh, today was awesome! Liliana and her crew showed up and followed me around like I was a celebrity! You should have seen the folks in the waiting rooms - wish we could have taken video of their faces, but you know...confidentiality and all that stuff....oh, well.

Anyways, it was pretty fun! The patients and staff couldn't quite figure out what was going down; they figured I actually *was* a celebrity, so they kept trying to guess who I was. I told a couple of people I was Julia Roberts with a face transplant, but just between you and me, I don't think they quite bought it.

Oh, ya, I had my chemo too. But more about that tomorrow. Ha! Gotcha coming back every day, now, right? Admit it, you are HOOKED on my priceless little SOAP OPERA-A-A-A here in bloggy land, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

And incidentally, I'm hooked, too. Hooked on you. Hooked on your encouragement, your love, your support, your good wishes, your absolute amazingness at emailing me when I'm down (and also when I'm up)....shall I go on?

Anyways, MY Soap Opera only has GOOD stuff. No extra-maritals, no melodrama (ok, maybe a bit), no  guns, no people washing up on desert islands and being written off the show, no nasty....and best of all, ya wanna know what my Soap Opera is called?  (scroll down)

(scroll down more)

(still more)

Ready for it? Are you sure?

"The Young and the Breastless".

I said, "The Young and the Breastless"!! Ha!

Okay, but I'm serious about you having to come back tomorrow. I have to go rest and I've already been on this computer for, like, three hours. Snapshot version of chemo today is: it went well, I was at peace - amazingly. 

It's really cuz I love being the center of attention (no surprises there, eh?) so I had a blast with Liliana and her crew of 3 (sound, camera, her personal assistant). It totally distracted me from the chemo.

No side effects so far (really?) Ya, I'm normal so far. No puking or excessive fatigue. Give it a few days and then maybe KAPOW! But fine for now.

Full report tomorrow by 5 pm, I promise. Pictures. Details. MORE WIG PICS (NEW)!! Be here. Don't miss it. 

In the meantime, YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS VIDEO!! It's priceless! My pal Ruth sent it to me.

A bientot! Till tomorrow!

Love to you all,


Sunday, November 22, 2009

- The Prayer

Yep, so tomorrow's the big day. I think this song is so soothing and right now, it's helping me to get ready for the chemo and everything that'll go with it tomorrow....the first step of the next 15 months of my life.

Thank you all SO much for your prayers, your encouragement, your cheerleading and your helps to know we're not alone in crisis, doesn't it?



Saturday, November 21, 2009

- Curtis and Leroy

Curtis & Leroy saw an ad in the Kentville Advertiser Newspaper in Kentville, N.S. and bought a mule for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the mule the next day.

The next morning the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry fellers, I have some bad news; the mule died last night." 

Curtis & Leroy replied, "Well, then just give us our money back."

The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already." They said, "OK then, just bring us the dead mule." The farmer asked, "What in the world ya'll gonna do with a dead mule?"

Curtis said, "We gonna raffle him off." The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead mule!"

Leroy said, "We shore can! Heck, we don't hafta tell nobody he's dead!"

A couple of weeks later, the farmer ran into Curtis & Leroy at the Co-Op grocery store and asked:  "What'd you fellers ever do with that dead mule?" They said, "We raffled him off like we said we wuz gonna do."

Leroy said, "Shucks, we sold 500 tickets fer two dollars apiece and made a profit of $898." The farmer said, "My Lord, didn't anyone complain?"

Curtis said, "Well, the feller who won got upset. So we gave him his two dollars back."

Curtis and Leroy now work for the government. They're overseeing Obama's Economic Stimulus package.

Have a good weekend, everybody!

Friday, November 20, 2009

- Yada Yada

Today's post will probably be a mishmash of miscellaneous meaningless meandering mumblings. Mmmm.

Okay, here's a skill testing question. Examine the following photograph very closely and see if you can determine the identity of the subject in question:

For those of you who guessed "Timmy", you're absolutely right!

When I've finished blogging here, I will break the news to him that, alas, his brilliant disguise was unsuccessful.

So today was a stay-at-home-and-grieve kind of day. I was at the hospital every day this week, and it's been quite rushed; I haven't had the time to process all the information I was given, some of which was pretty discouraging and - well, bad - so instead of trying to outrun the emotions, I decided to stay home and let everything have its effect on me.

Remember Alan Alda in M*A*S*H? He was the smart-mouthed doctor who hated the war and detested being in Korea, yet always had a wisecrack and a humorous spin for absolutely every circumstance.

While in one way, it's admirable to do that, I so don't want to be him. Alda's character Hawkeye used humor to suppress his rage. He dealt with horrible situations using his comedy, but it was often a sarcastic, embittered kind of humor that, while entertaining, could be really tiring after awhile, since it was so obviously contrived.

I love comedy. I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh, but I don't want it to become a cover-up for true emotions. It's just not healthy.

I want my humor to be a sweetener, not Aspertame. In otherwords, real - not fake.
And so today, I let it all hang out by crying on and off all day. I will continue to do so tomorrow, and even Sunday, too, until it's all out of my system and I'm ready to face Monday's marathon of the echocardiogram, blood tests and chemo.

Just as an aside: you know, I've been thinking: aside from my two surgeries, the pain and discomfort which followed, a sarcastic, burnt-out, crabby nurse in the Recovery Room, several sleepless nights, the relentless volume of doctors' appointments and the hassles of finding parking closer than 3 kms from the hospital....

...the upcoming nausea and possible vomiting plus the onset of menopause as a result of the chemo (plus the experience I'll have of every hair on my body falling out - eww); some plastic surgery on my mastectomy scar next year to improve its appearance followed by radiation to nuke any lingering cancer cells near the surface...

...a surgery to remove my one remaining ovary as a preventative measure against ovarian cancer (I found out this week I'm probably at risk for that); the loss of employment income and the occasional fear that inevitably accompanies a potentially life-threatening disease...

I've been thinking that, aside from all that, having cancer isn't that bad!

Hahahahahaaaaa! That's a joke!

Oh, dear - was that an Alan Alda / Hawkeye kind of joke? Or was that a regular, happy, Wendy kind of joke?

Never mind - tonight, I don't care. Today I am experiencing a kind of grieving, but tomorrow, or maybe the next day, I will be back to my regular self (whatever that is - ha!). Millions of women have gone through this, and it's not the end of the world - it's just "a new normal".

I was discussing 'anger with God' with a friend today. While I can understand how people react in anger towards God, I am not angry at God. He did not give me cancer, and I do not expect him to protect me from every single thing afflicting society.

I have seen His protection on a few occasions, sparing me from certain dangers (ask me about the guy who ran into me & my motorcycle in 1979), but if I must go through something, then go through I will, and He will be with me every step of the way.

Okay - on to another topic! Have you ever seen Nora the Cat? Nora is an internet sensation, with tons of hits on her YouTube videos:

And not only does Nora play solo - she also performs with the symphony orchestra!

Well, that's all from me - have a wonderful weekend, and take care of yourselves.   xoxoxo