Christmas is finally over, and the New Year has arrived! Christmas 2013 was a cheerful event around our household this year and we did our very best to keep it as upbeat as possible with lots of family and friends around. As Brenda and I were taking down the lights and the decorations and the tree today, I was reminiscing about many of our traditions and thinking about everything that goes on for most families who celebrate Christmas. So many things changed out of necessity for us this year once Brenda got her breast cancer diagnosis, and we have new challenges to face together now that 2014 has arrived. But more on that a little later on …
We managed to pull off the family dinner on the Saturday, December 14th with Bob and Gail and Inge and the other family members who could be here. We even had a visit from Flat Stanley … Bob and Gail’s grandson Connor had sent them his school project, Flat Stanley, so that Grandma and Grandpa could show him around Vancouver Island and they ended up bringing him for dinner as well. A man named Dale Hubert began the Flat Stanley Project in 1994 in Ontario, Canada. Hubert had the brilliant idea of having children create their own Flat Stanley paper cutouts and mailing them to friends and family around the globe, in order to foster authentic literacy activities for kids and get them excited to write about Stanley’s adventures. Hubert invited other teachers to take part by “hosting” Flat Stanley visitors in their classrooms as they arrived in the mail, and encouraging students to keep their own Flat Stanley journals. Connor’s version of Flat Stanley was a big hit, and even had his own place at the dinner table.
I took a little time off from blogging over the Christmas break, there was so much going on around our household, and I had a lot to catch up on and plan for with respect to finishing off the year end with my work. The good news is that it was an excellent year for me business wise, and some even better news yet is the fact that beginning January 1st my travel will be cut down drastically. My territory has grown so much the last few years, and a little corporate realignment and human resource reallocation by my company means that I now just have the province of BC to manage. This could not have come at a better time, especially since I want to be there for Brenda through all of her chemo treatments if at all possible. Part of my early morning routine now though, is to get my coffee in the morning, and then while I enjoy my coffee I read the sports section of the Vancouver Sun. After I read all about the latest venture of the Canucks (although I usually already know since I most likely watched the game the night before), I refresh my coffee and then settle in with my WordPress reader and catch up on the blogs of some of the other bloggers that I have begun following. The talent in WordPress is amazing, and I really look forward to seeing what new posts have come in overnight and from the day before. Being the Christmas season and all, there have been many writings on Joy and Gratitude, and I even tried a reblog of a post (for the first time) that I shared with my followers on Joy and Gratitude. I hope that those of you that are following me that are not fellow bloggers (family and friends) had a chance to check out timethief’s post. There was some amazing content there with the Brené Brown interviews and the post and the interviews really touched Brenda. Which of course, is why I felt it was an excellent opportunity to reblog.
Shortly after I reblogged the post on Joy and Gratitude from fellow WordPress blogger timethief, I also ran across an amazing interview from a young Canadian woman. Hélène Campbell is a soon to be twenty three year old woman from Ottawa and is a double lung transplant recipient. Growing up, she loved to connect with people wherever she went. Hélène enjoyed travelling and had a passion for film making and she considered making it her career. At the age of twenty, she was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a degenerative lung disease. Suddenly, Hélène required a double lung transplant, her only treatment option. She joined 1,500 fellow Ontarians on the waiting list for organ transplant. There is a shortage of donors across Canada, the consequences being serious – every three days, someone in Ontario alone dies while waiting. Social Media became the perfect platform for Hélène to advocate for the cause of organ and tissue donation. In her home province of Ontario organ donor registrations have increased significantly, while transplants have increased dramatically. Celebrities like Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres have endorsed her campaign, which is now recognised internationally.
The part of the interview that really struck home with me, was when Hélène referred to her new lungs as Gratitude, and she went on to explain that she really considers them “Grrrr-Attitude” … Attitude with a little Grrrr. This young woman has an amazing perspective on life and it really touched me when I watched her on TV and then watched the video again. Keeping a tenacious and positive attitude is really what Brenda is doing as well, and I believe that we can all learn something from Hélène Campbell on putting things in perspective. I also believe that we all need to consider registering to become an organ donor if we are not at present.
The start of the new year had a very positive note for Brenda as well. Since her surgery, she has had to contend with a drain to drain the excess lymphatic fluid. It was definitely challenging for her over the last month always having to wear untucked blouses and sweatshirts that would cover the tubing and the little drain receptacle that had to be clipped to the top of her slacks as well. Not exactly a fashion statement! But then, this is not about fashion anyway, is it? Anyway, having to contend with the drain and emptying it three times a day and then log the amount of fluid was truly a pain. For some unknown reason, on New Year’s Day her drain stopped working and there was no fluid collecting whatsoever. Brenda took a call from the home care nurse this past Thursday morning as she was planning her day, and Brenda explained the situation to her. The surgeon was off over the holidays and Brenda had an appointment for January 7th for a followup visit and to have the drain removed. Upon discussing the situation, the home care nurse felt that it needed to be attended to quicker and managed to call the office of the surgeon and got her an appointment with the surgeon’s colleague who was the acting locum. There is a bit of a story to this as well. I of course went with Brenda to the appointment, and the locum surgeon decided he would take out the drain and the tubing for her. Now I consider myself a brave sort, and I have decided that I will be there by her side for as much as I can as she fights breast cancer. Let’s just say, however, that it is a good thing I did not train as a doctor. And just also let’s say that it is a good thing that I was sitting down in the examination room when he pulled the tube out, or the good doctor may have had to deal with her first and then contend with me immediately after as I collapsed onto a heap on the floor! What a brave guy! I think I was whiter than the floor tiles in the examination room! I FELT that tube coming out!
This week is going to be a good week for Brenda. We meet with the Oncology team at the Cancer Clinic this coming Thursday, and we will finally get the schedule for the chemotherapy treatments so she can start those. Not exactly the most exciting thing to look forward to, but believe me, Brenda is anxious to start the treatments and to get to work at getting the cancer eradicated from her body.
As an ending quote for this extremely long post, I wanted to share something that Maya Angelou shared with Oprah when Oprah was having struggles with starting up her OWN network …
“Say ‘thank you’ right now. Because your faith is so strong you already know God put a rainbow in every cloud.” – Maya Angelou to Opray Winfrey
Until next time … Keith