No Rhyme or Reason

By Kristen Knott

Written January 23, 2016

A surge of nausea crashes through my belly, seizing my organs, constricting my muscles, shortening my breath. I am stunned. Paralyzed. Unyielding, heart racing, my eyes struggle to make sense of the perfunctory words on my computer screen.

She is dead. Breast Cancer. Gone.

What happened? She was fine last I had heard.

The remnants of the email blur into small print –boilerplate logistical details, funeral, donations and the family she left behind. Two kids, a husband…an entire life left unlived.

I never met her. I didn’t know anything about her, other than she was a mother, and the wife of an acquaintance. He shared that she was healing and was doing well last time we spoke. When was that? May –a mere eight months ago. Could this happen to me? My mind flashes ahead eight months. March break with the kids, summer vacation, grade eight grad then bam it’s over, no thanksgiving, no Christmas. It’s too difficult to grasp. It’s overwhelming. My eyes fill with tears. I fight them stubbornly, an attempt to keep the floodgates of worry and fear sealed shut. I refuse to let doubt penetrate my body.

Did she do everything she was supposed to? Was [...] continue the story

It Took Breast Cancer for Me to get Tattoos

By Kristen Knott

Written May 23, 2015

She begins. I scrunch my eyes and hold my breath, fighting through the first couple of minutes, adjusting to the sensation of the needle piercing my skin. Gradually, I start to let my body relax. The pain is not as intense as I thought it would be. It helps that Kyla moves from my left boob to the right, instead of remaining in one spot, which keeps my mind distracted and spreads the discomfort. I flinch as she injects into a tender area right near my left scar. I close my eyes and concentrate on breathing in order to get through it. She asks me if the pain is too intense. I tell her it hurts a lot but I’m ok.

“Please continue,” I say. So she does.

“There! Go take a look.” Kyla Gutsche instructs. She is the Pied Piper of cosmetic tattooing. We are in her office, which is housed in a traditional medical building in the heart of Peterborough of all places. I sought Kyla’s services booking a year and a half ago to make sure I was in her queue. After my mastectomies I yearned to see the same familiar sight, the one [...] continue the story

Toodaloo Motha…

Ken Jeong of “The Hangover” fame, shares this intimate perspective of his wife’s cancer and its impact on him as caregiver.

This is part of a series of films for the upcoming WETA and Ken Burns Cancer project.

Being a Patient Past Present & Future

By Kristen Knott

Written November 21, 2014

A year ago today I received my 6th and final chemo infusion. One breast, hairless head to toe, fatigued, sore and emotionally drained, I was fed up with being a cancer patient. The light at the end of the tunnel seemed almost out of view.

Now a year later, the anniversary has passed uneventfully with the usual mix of entertaining teenagers, both off for a PA day, addressing client emails and meeting a deadline for my Humber creative writing course; yet the entire time I quietly celebrated that I am no longer a patient. I question however, if I will ever stop fully being a patient in my head, as the role has profoundly changed who I am, and how I now approach my life.

As a cancer patient there was a sense of achievement and pride as I met and endured each treatment milestone, although I struggled with the lack of control over the present and future state of my health, it forced me to look hard, at my own mortality, an utterly terrifying notion to me. My body had been hijacked by cancer and I was at the mercy of this invisible enemy that only [...] continue the story

Wonder Women Unite

By Kristen Knott

Written September 8, 2014

I am giddy this morning despite being physically exhausted.

Team Wonder Women comprised of 11 old and new friends walked 60km this past weekend! We raised almost $30,000 for Women’s Cancer research for the Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Center.

The week leading up to the walk was filled with emails, phone calls and group chats. Those of us who were at our donation goals were helping others to meet their individual goal. Friends and families, colleagues and even strangers sponsored us. We all reminded sponsors that 100% of their donation would benefit Princess Margaret cancer research. We were all apprehensive and some even doubted our physical ability to walk the 60km. Some of my teammates had trained extensively, and others not at all. Every one of us monitored the weather forecast praying for dry and cool weather. Costumes were coordinated, Wonder Woman attire assembled. Our excitement grew each day. I doubt any of us slept well the night before the walk. I lay in bed listening to the thunder and watched the lightning from my bedroom window. The heavens opened up to unleash a wicked storm. I prayed that [...] continue the story