With this year’s Relay for Life only a few short days away, I thought it would be good time to reflect on my experiences from last year.
This year I had the honour of volunteering at the Relay for Life, held at Shearwater Air Base. With all the time I’ve supported cancer charities, it was the first time I had been at this event, and I truly have no idea why. I took so much away from it, and I will definitely be back next year. More than the events, I took away feelings, and that’s what I want to focus on. Moments that really stood out for me.
Relay for Life
This year, The Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Dartmouth will be Friday, June 21st at Shearwater AFB. Last year I volunteered for this event for the first time, and this year I’m happy to say that my daughter will be volunteering with me. It was a moving, sobering and yet inspirational experience for me last year and I’m grateful to be able to share in it with my children.
Yes I said children. My oldest son will also be at the Relay for Life, participating on a team as a member of “Mamma Bear”. I am extremely proud of him for doing this. In an age where everyone seems to be busy I think it’s important to slow down and look beyond yourself and take the time to help others. Aside from being a wife and a mother, nothing has given me more joy than volunteering my time to help people. I always gain a deeper appreciation of what I have.
Aric’s teams Captain, Elizabeth, had this to say about why she created the team for “Relay for Life”:
It seems fitting that on Mother’s Day I would finally try to write about you. I always thought that losing Grandpa would be the hardest… he was my first loss to cancer, after all, and I idolized him. My love for Grandpa was a child’s love, however… and I had that same love with you, but because I had the opportunity to share more of my life with you, it was a love and respect that developed into adulthood.
You were the most beautiful person I’ve ever met and will ever meet in my life, inside and out. You made everyone feel special and appreciated. When I remember happy memories from my childhood the majority of them centered around you and Grandpa and your house. I used to get so excited when I would get to come… I’d write songs in the car about going to Alta, and sing them on the way. It was only an hour’s car drive, but felt more like four.
You baked me chocolate chip cookies and cake with no frosting (which is how I still prefer it), special dinners and treats out. You taught me that there’s always room for dessert. You would know which of your family was coming up the road by the sound of the engine. Your love and patience and compassion and tenderness radiated from your eyes. You radiated warmth. You were light.
Mesothelioma Surgery May Make Breathing More Difficult
Mesothelioma treatments can serve two purposes: They can help stop tumor growth, and they can help manage symptoms. Curative treatments have the potential to do both; when the tumors get smaller, they place less pressure on the lungs. This in turn reduces symptoms like chest pain and coughing. Treatments can extend a patient’s life expectancy, as well.
In the case of curative surgery, however, many patients experience the opposite effect – at least, for the first few weeks following their operation.
The two main surgeries for mesothelioma – the pleurectomy/decortication and the extra-pleural pneumonectomy – are both invasive procedures. While the former is a lung-sparing procedure, the latter involves the removal of one full lung. The remaining lung must then bear the burden of both.
Additionally, with an extra-pleural pneumonectomy, fluid may accumulate in the space more quickly for the first three days after surgery. These fluid buildups – known as pleural effusions – can make it difficult or even painful to breathe. On the upside, surgeons can safely drain this fluid from the chest cavity with an outpatient procedure called a thoracentesis.
Even with a pleurectomy/decortication, patients may still experience difficulty breathing. As their body heals and their lungs get stronger, this struggle should get easier over time.
Tonight, when I was out for my walk (gulp… 18 days until the Bluenose Marathon!)… I was noticing the ever persistant pain that has started in my left hip, choosing to ignore the fact that both my grandmother and my aunt had degenerative hip disorder, one who went through hip replacement surgery, the other who grinned through the pain and just dealt with it. And I told myself what I always tell myself… it’s probably nothing. It’ll pass. It’s just getting into the swing of walking more frequently after winter. Whether that is the case or not, it’s what I choose to believe.
Choosing to believe something gives us an affirmation and an inner strength to face what lies in our path. I choose to believe that this pain will go away. I choose to believe that the little stresses of today will not matter tomorrow. I choose to believe that sadness is temporary. I choose to be optimistic because I believe there’s a silver lining in every dark cloud. I choose to believe the losses I’ve had in my life were to teach me hard lessons and how to let go. I choose to believe in love, because I really do believe it is the strongest and purest emotion we are blessed enough to experience in our life. I choose to devote as much time as I can to my children now, because I believe that all too soon they will have grown up and moved on with their lives, and when my nest is empty and I look back I won’t say “I wish I had more time for myself” but “I wish I had more time with them.” I choose to believe that people are inherently good. I choose to believe that doing some small good really does make a difference in the world. I believe in Karma. This isn’t a choice, this is a belief, and because I believe in Karma, I choose to believe that revenge is a waste of energy because in the end, good or bad, people get what is coming to them.
Because I believe in Karma, and that good people have good things come to them, I choose to believe my friend Wanda is going to win her fight with breast cancer. It will not go any other way, because it simply can’t. I choose to believe that she will come through this stronger than she ever was before. I choose to believe that people who are fortunate enough to be a part of her life will also come through stronger and more appreciative of the gifts they have in their lives. I choose to believe that this year, when the CIBC Run for the Cure comes around, that she will be strong enough to participate in it again with us.
I choose to believe that every life experience we have teaches us a lesson, something new about ourselves, or something new about the people around us. I carefully choose the people around me, and choose to keep those who seem to thrive on negativity at a distance. I choose to focus on the good. I choose to be happy.
Much buzz has been generated about incorporating Wellness into your life, but how many of us really know what that is? Wellness isn’t just about going for a jog and eating an apple. True Wellness envelopes mind, body, heart and spirit.
Webster’s defines Wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal”. Actively seeking balance in your life can help anyone, whether you’re already in good health, fighting cancer or another terminal illness, trying to lower your blood pressure, or working to shed those extra few pounds. The key is to “feed” each of the four parts every day.
For most of us, “Body” is easy to figure out… eat better and stay active. However, it is just as important to feed your mind. Pledge to be an eternal student – never stop learning new things. This activity is not only good for personal knowledge, but several studies have been done that demonstrate working to continue to actively challenge your mind helps keep your cognitive thinking sharp and fights off the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s.