Tag Archives: The Breast Cancer Chronicles

Today We Walked, One Day A Cure

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m back home to The Best Place On Earth.
Mes vacances sont terminées
I’m also back to looking out longingly to the mountains somehow convinced my utopian life lies beyond those mountains.
I must say that this was by far my best vacation ever!
I’m literally counting the days until I can go back; seriously, there’s a wall and a marker involved.
Meanwhile life goes on…

Run for the Cure

Yesterday, my siblings and I joined our mom for the CIBC Run for the Cure.
Frankly, I’m growing a little tired of these runs/walks for the ‘cure’
I think we’re ready for that cure already!


I asked my sister if she thought there would ever be a cure in our lifetime, she smiled and said no.
This made me sad because my sister is an amazing optimist; she has faith in all sorts of hopeless causes.

My mom is hopeful, she says you can’t give up on these things.

As I look around at the crowd, I realize that maybe I’m a little optimistic too.


How can I give up, there are so many of us – so many stories, so many battles, so many struggles and so many victories.
So much hope.
It keeps on going, we keep on going and ultimately there has to be a cure.
We’re a family; we’re survivors, caretakers, relatives, friends, loved ones and those who just care.

Live Walkers

Man & Son Runners

It rained the whole way through the walk yesterday.
It was a little miserable, especially since it we weren’t expecting rain – it was supposed to be sunny.

We got a little wet, we weren’t our chirpy selves but we soldiered on to the finish line

Pamela Martin Gordon Campbell

The BC Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is working to find a cure, future without breast cancer by the year 2020.

Secretly I’m hopeful.

I’ve added a video of the VOC Soul Choir singing O Canada before the start of the Run.
My second year in Vancouver, I did the Run alone and got very emotional when they sang the national anthem.
I’ve written about this before
These days whenever it gets to that part, I think about my running companion that day.
This video is for her, and I hope she’s still a survivor.

…Of What We Used To Be

I’m subscribed to a photo service that twice a month, emails me a selection of interesting pictures I took years ago.
It’s brilliant! My old photos are new again and the memories along with them are incredible.
Most of my pictures from two years ago are full of my bento lunches – Oh what mouth-watering nostalgia!

To Operating Room

My mom had a mastectomy exactly a year ago today.
I probably wouldn’t have remembered it was today were it not for the pictures.
I doubt my mom remembers; the mastectomy seems like a lifetime ago to her.
A lifetime ago when our every action and thought was of the big C.
It’s still with us, you can’t really get away from cancer once it touches you; but it’s different now, like the worst part is over.


It’s inspiring seeing my mom go from breast cancer victim to breast cancer survivor.

The mastectomy changed her; it was like the green light to continue living her life.

Mom Mom in fragipani

She’s been busying herself these days with her seniors’ group.
It’s been an activity-filled past few days for her – which is why she probably doesn’t remember her surgery was a year ago today.
She’s become the de-facto treasurer of her small seniors’ group, and a week ago they contributed money to get a present for the yoga teacher, she was also supposed to get the present.

Mom Mom

My mom discovered a counterfeit note in the monies she collected, and the West End’s Miss Marple was born!
My mom is determined to uncover the origin of the counterfeit note, and this has turned into a mini obsession.
I’m like her in that regard, I sometimes get so caught up in my little projects that they become obsessions (I’ll tell you one of these days why I haven’t blogged in over a week!).
Yesterday, she gave an informal talk to her friends on how to spot counterfeit notes.
She’s convinced seniors are easy targets (for being slipped counterfeits) and she wants to do something about it.


We’ve come quite a ways from last year, my mom is slowly coming out of the shadow of ‘breast cancer patient’
She celebrated her sixty-eighth birthday last month.
We had the fluffiest and the most delicious white chocolate mousse cake.
The lighting wasn’t great, but I took pictures anyway. I can’t wait to revisit them few years from now.

Walking For the Cure

CIBC Run for the Cure

Last month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we did the CIBC Run for the Cure with my mom.


This was the second year walking with my mom, and this time it felt a little different

Last year my mom had just started chemo, and there was much uncertainty.

This year she walked with Chemo, radiation and a mastectomy behind her.

For Her Twin Ali


There’s still uncertainty but it’s uncertainty speckled with hope.

Hope & Courage

The pink survivor shirts had the word ‘Courage’ written on them, and there were a lot of pink shirts this year.

These events are just not about fund-raising for breast cancer research and awareness;

It brings survivors together, letting them know that they are not alone.

One More KM to Go

It was colder this year; we finished the long walk in 1:17mins – mom said it felt longer.

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Hair Grows Back

Mom's Hair

“Hair grows back” is what my mom’s oncologist said that day we met to discuss treatment options.

This was after he’d detailed the side effects of her treatment ad nauseam (pun intended). I thought that was such an awkward thing to say in light of the situation. He’d just explained to her that she could die (yes, death!) and her comfort was that her hair would grow back?


Even more awkward… my mom asked the doctor when exactly he expected her hair to grow back.

He went on to explained that it was different for everyone and told a joke of a woman with dull wispy hair whose hair grew back curly, thick and bouncy after chemotherapy, the joke is that whenever she’s asked where she got her hair done she says “the BC Cancer Agency.”


My mom’s hair started growing back a few weeks after she finished radiation, in patches and uneven. She agreed to cut it, it grew back again, faster this time a little uneven but better than before. She cut it a second time.


This is my mom’s hair about two weeks ago, after her third cut, she’s now convinced her hair grows faster with every cut.

The texture has changed and it’s greyer now, but she doesn’t mind.

She wears it proudly and gets compliments daily, don’t ask me how many times she’s told that joke.


I get asked a lot how my mom is doing, sometimes I feel people think I’m putting on a brave face when I say she’s well.

But really, she is. We’re all doing well. What a difference a year makes.

Maybe the hair growing back signifies a return to normalcy, or a new kind of normal.

Our lives are slowly being returned to the way things were before it was that other way.

The Surgery, An Update

It’s been two weeks since my mom’s surgery and I’m pleased to report that things are moving along smoothly.

Although we went over the process a million times, I still wasn’t sure that what was expected was what was going to happen. We were scared but managed to put on a brave face for my mom, and I suspect she did the same for us.


Her surgery got delayed for about two hours, so we spend most of the day in the surgery prep/waiting area. At some point we thought it was going to get cancelled, until her surgeon came by and assured us that it was still on and he was on his way to get ready.

Mom & Els Jim Pattison Pavillion

My mom didn’t get wheeled to the operating room until after 2:00PM; we’d been at the hospital since 10:30AM. The surgery was supposed to take two hours and another two hours in post surgery before we could see her. We said out goodbyes and good lucks and watched her go through the heavy double doors.

My sister and I were hungry and apprehensive, which isn’t a good feeling at all. We grabbed a quick lunch at the Whole Foods on Cambie (their Burrito Bar by the way, is no Chipotle’s but good too), and decided to walk towards South Granville, walking does the mind good, my mom always says.

It was pleasantly long, we window shopped, fielded calls and generally tried to keep our minds off what was really going on. We were in Chapters when the call came, Dr. McGregor (my mom’s surgeon) called to let us know that the surgery went very well, and everything is fine. We still had two hours to wait while she was in Recovery. We returned calls from friends and family, my uncle Sam must have called a thousand times.

We made our way back to the hospital and called the ward where she’s supposed to go after recovery, she hadn’t been brought up yet; they said they’d call as soon as she was brought up.

A few minutes later we got a call that she’s being kept in recovery for a few more hours, we tried not to panic and decided to go home and wait.


We had to walk strange meandering floors to get to the car because the parking lot was closed and the elevators shut off.

We got a call at 10:30PM that she’d been brought up and we can see her briefly. We went back to the hospital, mom was awake and lucid, she sounded hoarse, had a cough and her throat was sore from the breathing tube. She stayed longer in recovery because of a spike in her blood sugar. Our visit was brief, we were just was thankful and relieved that this part of the journey was over.

Tired Bart monitor mom

We returned to the hospital bright and early the next morning to find my mom already up, sitting, chatting and looking much better, it was such a pleasant surprise!

Mom East

We hung out in her room (with a view) while she got poked and prodded; she went downstairs for X-rays, blood drawn, and a whole 8 person physio team to walk her through her exercises.

She came home with us that night, a home nurse comes by every day but she’s doing so well, these days she just phones it in.

I get asked a lot how my mom is doing, I ask her how she’s doing all the time too; as if I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So I tell them what she tells me… she’s doing very well. She’s a fighter that one.

Here are the rest of the surgery set -Â from flickr