Time for Renewal

Having a disease that will ultimately end my life highlights expiry dates.

There’s the old joke about not buying green bananas, in case we’re not around to eat them when they ripen yellow and sweet.


  • I opened a can of chick peas with an expiry date in 2015. What is my expiry date?
  • My driver’s licence is up for renewal this year. It will be good for 5 years. Will I?
  • My passport expires next month. I plan to see my son receive his Master’s degree in England this summer so I will renew it but how many pages will I manage to use?
  • Yesterday I booked my flight to visit my daughter in Toronto. I feel great to travel in a few weeks but what about this summer? I’m already booking weekends in my day-timer, determined to fill the summer with adventure: Whistler hiking, Howe Sound camping, Pender Harbour book club retreat, and Osoyoos wine.

When I was diagnosed in September 2010, the immensity of the disease, the prospect of surgery and horror of chemotherapy made me wonder if I would see Christmas that year. I did and danced with my niece in my sister’s living room. And I’ve seen two more since.

When you look up the statistics for advanced ovarian cancer, you’re a lonely gal if you manage to be among the 30% who are still alive 5 years from diagnosis. 

A few months ago I made the mistake of asking one of my doctors for my prognosis. She hummed and hawed and said it all depends on the individual, that statistics don’t relate well to the individual patient, that there may in the future be a new drug that brings the magical cure. And then she gave me a number of years that was significantly less than I had expected.

A few weeks later there was another doctor–older, more experienced. This one, I thought, would give me a better answer. But she gave me the same number of years.

With my exercise, support group, therapy, relaxation class, supplements, naturopathic care, supportive family and friends, healthy eating and positive outlook, I am determined to beat the odds. But I’m also not buying canned goods in bulk.

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6 Responses to Time for Renewal

  1. Gail N-K says:

    Just wanted you to know that we’re thinking of you and hoping you’ve got those odds beat too! A big hug from Seattle!
    Take care!
    Gail N-K


  2. sarenaperez says:

    I can so relate to this post. When I was first diagnosed I demanded to know the statistics. The doctor didn’t want to tell me but in short it was 50/50 odds 5 years out. The first feeling I felt was a cold rush of fear. Then I was determined to beat it. I read about Lance Armstrong (not such a good role model anymore but back then he inspired me to fight) beating what everyone thought was an incurable cancer and I wanted to be a survivor too. I thought the worse it got and the bleaker it was then the better the comeback it makes. But also inside I was preparing for death. I did practical things like plan my funeral and decide what music I wanted playing and so forth. I told everyone in my life I loved them every time I saw them. And then something magical did happen – I got better. I know the odds for late stage ovarian cancer – I was stage 3. I also know many other women in person who have it too. Our lives may not see us grow to be as old as others but ya know what – I’ve sort of stopped focusing on that. In my brain I don’t really see myself living past my 50’s. And that’s ok.

    It sounds like you are fighting the hell out of this bitch and I commend you for it. If you ever want to talk please feel free to email me. 🙂




    • rvanhalm says:

      Thanks Sarena.
      I focus on living well each day… and if it’s not forever, well then I have nothing to regret.

      It’s tough when you’re young facing this beast. I look forward to following your story.

      All the best,



  3. deb says:

    So well said and I too can relate. I think I just looked at a can of chick peas recently with the same question. Best to each and every one of us from Philadelphia! And, thanks for writing.


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