The New Normal

When cancer returned early this year, I realized I’d had a pretty good year: I hiked Joshua Tree National Park, cross-country skied, organized a dance, and went back to work part-time for six months.

I’ve finished chemo… second time since being diagnosed in September 2010.  I haven’t wasted much time.  I started an exercise class early this year with other women trying to keep their bodies together despite the ravages of disease. I was fortunate to keep going  to the classes twice a week throughout chemo. My fitness level even improved while I was on chemo. I think it’s the fitness that’s keeping me alive.

I live with intention. I celebrate every holiday, enjoy each family dinner, and appreciate each day, even if it’s one that fatigue claims. I even made the most of a ‘no-hair’ summer… loved wearing those straw hats!

This battle is not without many losses. For 35 years I defined my success as a person by my work. By re-examining my role as a mother, daughter, sister, friend and a volunteer, I’ve come to recognize I am more than my work. That is a gift.

We are very fortunate in Vancouver to have an ovarian cancer support group, sponsored by Ovarian Cancer Canada. Here I’ve met survivors of 20 years, learned about living fully despite recurrence, honoured friendswho cancer claimed, and to survive another round of chemo because there may be a new drug that will give me a few more years to see my children graduate from university, to marry, to have their own children.

I don’t dwell on the prospect of missing those experiences. Instead I look for opportunities to share things with them now. Two weeks after chemo was finished, I flew to Toronto with my daughter Kate to settle her in residence at Ryerson University. And my son, Baxter, he’s back from his five years of study in the UK. We’re getting to know each other again. I appreciate every day.

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