Scarred for Life

There is one last lesson I’ve learned throughout this experience, and I could have added it to my last post, but it really warrants its own post. The whole idea of what we are trying to do with These Are My Scars was inspired by the events that took place within my own cancer journey.

During treatment I was so focused on just staying alive and getting through it, I never gave any thought to how I would be affected by the after effects of treatment, including surgery. I have never been squeamish about surgery, I actually wanted to be a surgeon at one point in my life (damn you chemistry), but once it was over, part of me just wanted to bury what had happened.

It’s strange that people will say “you’ve scarred me” or “I’m scarred” but it always has such a negative connotation. I’ll admit to buying into the negativity, after all it’s something that happens to you. No one really chooses to become scarred, so I suppose it can be seen as an invasion. I thought so too!

After my Lobectomy, I was left with a large red J shaped scar on my back and side, it looked like [...] continue the story

Mixed Cursing: May Update

This month’s installment of Peter Dunlap-Shohl’s graphic novel that shares his personal experience with Parkinson’s Disease.

 

More Mixed Cursing

Reflections on My Three Year Cancerversary…Lessons Learned

I should start by saying that on my actual Cancerversary (April 15th) I was so preoccupied with a doggie crisis that I spend all day at the emergency veterinarian’s worrying about my dog that I forgot all about what day it was! Needless to say, in the days that followed I did a bit of reflection on what surviving three years means to me.

I remember shortly after I was diagnosed, a friend of mine told me about her mother who was also battling cancer at the time. She mentioned that her mother had been fighting for three years. I thought, wow, what a long time!! In hindsight, it seems like no time at all!! It’s strange, I barely recognize myself or my life anymore, but I love who I am and I certainly love my life…cancer and all! I had always thought I knew what I wanted, but it took cancer to show me what was really important, and it wasn’t what I thought it was. Cancer has been both a blessing and a curse, and along the way, I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share.

I’ve never felt so loved or so alone in my life

It is [...] continue the story

How I Became an E-Patient Through Cushing’s Disease

For all of my early life, I was the good, compliant, patient. I took whatever pills the doctor prescribed, did whatever tests h/she (most always a HE) wrote for. Believed that whatever he said was the absolute truth. He had been to med school. He knew what was wrong with me even though he didn’t live in my body 24/7 and experience what I did.

I know a lot of people are still like this. Their doctor is like a god to them. He can do no wrong – even if they don’t feel any better after treatment, even if they feel worse. “But the doctor said…”

Anyway, I digress.

All this changed for me in 1983.

At first I noticed I’d stopped having my periods and, of course, I thought I was pregnant. I went to my Gynecologist who had no explanation. Lots of women lose their periods for a variety of reasons so no one thought that this was really significant.

Then I got really tired, overly tired. I would take my son to a half hour Choir rehearsal and could not stay awake for the whole time. I would lie down in the back of the van, set an alarm and sleep for [...] continue the story

A Story About Care

The Story About Care is one man’s reflections on the power of the caring relationship that can exist when people working in health care see the “person and not a pathology.” Jim Mulcahy shares his heart touching story of what it has been like to be cared for as he lives with end stage lymphoma while caring for his wife Sarah who has Huntington’s Disease.

 

This video was produced by the Canadian Virtual Hospice and the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing in association with the Health Design Lab at St. Michael’s Hospital and Wendy Rowland, film maker. We are grateful to Jim and Sarah for opening their home and their lives to us and sharing their story in the service of others.