Hi there and thanks for stopping by.
It’s been ages since I’ve blogged..something I used to do every single day for over 15 years. I stopped doing it for a number of reasons. Although I love writing and it was a true labour of love, I found that with the demands of the job and the ever increasing social media responsibilities that go hand in hand with a doing a show these days, that I simply couldn’t keep up with it. I miss it terribly though and it is my hope that one day..I can get back to it on a regular basis.
So why now you ask? Because I felt like you needed to hear this…and it if it helps even one person..then I’ve done my job and it was worth it. I wouldn’t normally share something so personal or so heavy…in fact…a lot of my close girlfriends and some family members don’t even know that I’ve been going through this.
I like to keep things light. There’s enough sadness these days and I get a great amount of joy from spreading it as much as I can.
Sometimes though..getting personal and serious is required. And when you’ve been given the platform I’ve been given…you can’t ignore opportunities to share something that might help someone else. So here goes.
I want to start this story by telling you it has a fairly happy ending. I know..I should have issued a spoiler alert but I didn’t want to scare anybody and I hate unnecessary drama….having said that…these last six weeks have been some of the most stressful in my life.
About 6 weeks ago, I was lying on our couch, chatting happily on the phone when I noticed a lump..yes..there. Right in the center of my chest. The worst place you can find one. I immediately froze. Hoping I had imagined it…I took a deep breath..and then went back to check again. Still there. No mistaking it.
I think I lived all of our cat’s 9 lives in that moment. I got off the phone and went to find Babe. He was calm and reassuring..as he always is.. and assured me that it could be nothing and no matter what…things were going to be okay. What I learned in that moment and as the weeks progressed… was that when you are going through something like this…there is really nothing anyone can say that helps. Not really.
You take a sudden seat on the sidelines of your life and wonder if you’re going to be a part of the show anymore. It felt surreal. As much as I tried to stay positive, there were moments of total panic..moments where I thought the worst and played out about a hundred frightening scenarios in my head.
I booked a doctor’s appointment the next day. Of course my doctor was away on vacation so it would be two weeks before I could get in to see him. I knew I would have to dig down deep and find the strength to get through the coming weeks … somehow I did… and the appointment arrived before I knew it.
My doctor is in Brampton. I know what you’re thinking…why? Well I grew up there and he’s been my family doctor for over 30 years. I have always said that I will find a new doctor when he retires…he is simply the best and he has been so good to my family that I wouldn’t entrust my health to anyone else unless I had to.
Normally, he’s unflappable and good natured. This time however, I couldn’t miss the look of concern when he felt the lump, nor his expression when he told me that he saw something else that concerned him when he was doing my “lady test”. I took another deep breath. Breathe in…breathe out. Simple words but they got me through that appointment…the long drive home…and the ensuing weeks. I was already worried about the lump..to find out there was something else…too much.
We scheduled a mammogram and ultra sound and sent in the “other test” to see what was what. I had to wait a few weeks for the mammogram and ultra sound and another few weeks to hear about the other results.
The weeks leading up to the tests went by in a fog. I wanted to hurry up time and then slow it down the next minute. I couldn’t decide if it was better to know or continue to live in blissful ignorance. But the ignorance wasn’t blissful…because no amount of distracting myself could really make me forget about it.
Work was one of my saviors and so was Matt..my amazing co-host and friend. He provided exactly the right amount of comfort and levity. Even though…because of the nature of things.. he must have been uncomfortable…he never showed it…he was there for me…lightening the load and the mood whenever I needed it. The day of the exam..he checked in with me every fifteen minutes to make sure I was okay and to see if he could do anything for me. I would not have been able to perform my job without him these last few weeks. Period. Love ya Boo…from the bottom of my heart…thank you.
The day of the mammogram…even though I had offers from babe, Matt, and my sister to go with me…I decided to go alone. I’m not sure why but having people there made it seem like a much bigger deal and if I was going to get through it without freaking out..I was going to have to act natural. I had never had a mammogram before. I had planned to start next year. A routine one probably wouldn’t have scared me but when there’s a reason you’re there for it…it’s a very different experience.
When I arrived at RVH last Monday…I was so scared that my knees were knocking together. I think the receptionist in the imaging department could tell because she could not have been kinder or more compassionate to me as I stammered through the registration. She told me that the results would be available to my doctor within the next 5 days and invited me to relax in the waiting room.
I really tried to focus on anything other than where I was and what I was there for but I could feel the panic setting in. Breathe. Just breathe. Luckily I didn’t have to hyperventilate too long, they came to get me right away. The mammogram was painless and the nurse was very business-like which actually helped me relax for some reason. Next up was the ultra sound…
I began to panic again because I knew from Googling (I know- bad idea) that they could tell from the ultra sound what they were likely dealing with. I didn’t want to look at the nurse in case she gave something away with her expression so I stared at the ceiling…focused on my breathing and tried making small talk. At the end of it…she excused herself and told me that she was going to check to see if she had enough pictures. What happened next almost gave me a heart attack.
She walked back into the room with a man she introduced as Dr Loughheed (I think)…all I could hear was my heartbeat. What was he doing here? They didn’t say a doctor would be coming in. Why did she go and get him? I should never have come alone..I’m not strong enough for this…and so on and so on.
Dr Loughheed wanted to do his own ultra sound of the area of concern. He was very quiet as he stared at the screen. To my mortification, I could feel a tear leak out as I lay there. It must be bad I thought. After a minute or two that felt like an hour, he took off his gloves, turned to look at me and said “What you have is a sebatious cyst and it’s nothing to be concerned about…I also looked at your mammogram and it’s clear…you’re good to go”.
Time stood still…I felt the breath..the one that I had been holding since I discovered the lump…leave my body…and a rush of gratitude so great that It almost brought me to my knees. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to share the good news with my family, friends, and Babe..I might have enveloped them both in a big bear hug. One health hurdle down…one to go.
A few days later, the second call I was waiting for came in. The test results were in and although my doctor still wants me to see a specialist just to make sure and it’s something I am going to have to keep up with…it was normal…even my doctor sounded relieved…to close out our phone call…he told me that I must have someone looking out for me. I answered that I know I do.
I can tell you that I would not have survived this mentally and emotionally without the constant support of a few very special people. For some reason, I found it hard to be around my family…especially my nephew…I so want to be there to see him graduate…get married…and be his crazy old aunt someday…even the possibility that I wouldn’t was just too much.
So I turned to Babe and a few of my close friends…and I was rewarded in ways I could never repay. To my friends Shannon and Faith…in my darkest hour…you gave me light and hope and I will never forget the constant support you offered to me. From hourly check-ins to offering your company when I wasn’t the best company…you showed up completely for me…both of you always do. Never once and not until after both tests were in… did you show me you were scared too. If I had a wish for the world…it would be that everyone has friends like you two.
To my Babe…I don’t know how I would have survived this without him. I wouldn’t have. He was positive throughout…reassured me that no matter what…we would get through it..and knowing what a worrier I am…he laid down with me every night until I fell asleep so I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts. For some people…not a big deal..but when you go to bed at 7:30…it’s a big deal!
Unfortunately, another thing I learned throughout all of this is that not everyone…no matter how close you thought you were..is comfortable talking about this stuff…I don’t feel it was intentional but a few of my friends…and I only shared it with a small circle of them.. treated me like a bit of a hot potato…would visibly tense up when I talked about it or would change the subject…and still haven’t asked how it all went…which made me feel even more isolated. Again..not intentional…not everyone can handle these things. I get that. Which leads me to this…
Three reasons I am sharing this with you.
#1. If you have a friend going through something like this and for whatever reason..you aren’t strong enough to be there for them. What you can do is donate to Gilda’s Club. Doesn’t have to be a lot. A $10 donation will buy ten pots of coffee in an environment where they can be there for them. I thought about a lot of things over these past 6 weeks and one of the decisions I made was that I would march right over to Gilda’s if I didn’t get the results I was hoping for. That’s what they’re there for. They get no government funding so helping them will help someone when you can’t. No one should have to face it alone…and the thought that anyone is breaks my heart.
#2. I’m going to be blunt here and it’s only because I care. My doctor calls cervical cancer the “Busy mom’s disease.” The reason he calls it that is because they make up the majority of women who get this diagnosis…they get busy with the kids..put themselves last…don’t get their pap smears regularly…and by the time they do…too late. It is one of the most preventable and easy to cure cancers if it is caught early enough. Do not miss those yearly check ups…what your kids need is for you to be there for them…not to win a posthumous Mother of the Year Award. Harsh, I know, but so true.
#3. A few years ago…we lost a brave fighter. Her name was Nicole Marchand. When I saw Wonder Woman over the weekend, I thought of her the whole time…because that’s who she was. A real life super hero who took on the disease that claimed her life with courage and dignity. I vowed when she passed that I would never forget the things she said during one of her last interviews. She shared how much it hurt her to see people complaining about stupid things on Facebook when she would pay a million dollars to have problems that small. In honour of her and her memory..I swore that I would never complain about superficial things…like someone cutting me off in traffic…or screwing up my order at Tim Horton’s….about getting older…which I see a lot of moaning about. How blessed are we that we get to? Not everyone does. Every birthday is a privilege..bring on the wrinkles. That extended to the recent flooding of our home and the thousands of dollars it will cost us to fix it. Everyone asked me how we were handling it so well and I meant it when I said “If these are our only problems, I will get down on my knees and thank God for it”. All we have is our health. Nothing else matters. NOTHING.
I am normally very private about things like this but at the end of the day…I’ve been given a platform and I made a promise to myself when I got into this business that I would always try to use it for good. If even one person makes an appointment to go get checked out…one person makes a donation to Gilda’s Club…or even one person re-thinks that negative Facebook post…then I’ve done my job. Life is a gift. Every day has been feeling like one these past few weeks for me and if there’s anything that will be moving forward with me from this day on..it’s that.
Wishing all of you good health and great love.
Thanks for listening.