Thank goodness for TimeHop. I never thought I'd forget the anniversary day. 10 years ago, Callum was diagnosed with cancer. That seems like so long ago, and like yesterday, all at the same time. The photo above is Callum checking out the progress of the home we were building in Red Deer. it was August 2005 and we had no idea what twists and turns our lives were about to take.
There were a lot of things to learn about cancer, treatment and how all of that would fit into our
The first year was a real learning curve. I will share what I wrote in an email update on the first
anniversary of diagnosis. It might seem weird, even dark, to pay attention to this kind of
anniversary. Well, it is the day my life changed forever.
From Sept. 30, 2006
I thought today would be a good day to give you an update on how Cal is doing. It was one year ago today that Callum was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Many of you know both of us, and know that I am the sentimental, mushy one. So this email is mostly of my thoughts. Life goes on, and Callum is in Vancouver today on work related business, and I am home.
Wow, what a year! It brings to mind many clichés – “Time Flies” “Take time to smell the roses” “Live one day at a time”, “Have faith” “Treasure each day as it is your last” “Be grateful for what you have” and on they go.
The saying that says the most to me right now is “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly”.
Thanks to each and every one of you for helping lift us to our feet. It was quite a year with a move to Red Deer, building a new house, meeting new friends and colleagues, along with walking 2 cancer journeys – one with our great-niece Lauren, who had a bone marrow transplant last September in order to cure leukemia, and shortly after that started our journey along the cancer path. Life is all about learning.
I would to share some of what I have learned.I learned, again, that life isn’t fair.
I learned that 44 is too young to have cancer.
I already knew that 9 years old was too young to have cancer.
I learned that 9 year olds have great strength, and can teach the rest of us about perseverance and the benefits of a positive attitude.
I learned that a family can handle 2 cancer journeys at the same time.
I learned that Ronald McDonald House puts on a great Thanksgiving Dinner!
I learned that even with my husband’s great strength, he can be very vulnerable.
I learned that I, too, was vulnerable, and that as we were vulnerable together, we grew stronger.
I learned that the world is really quite small, and 1600 kilometers or so is not too far for family and friends to come and visit, cook, clean, and just be there for us.
I learned that we can sleep more than 12 people in our home.
I learned that with 17 or so people and 7 trucks, it is humanly possible to load up furniture from a storage unit and apartment, and have it unloaded in a house, have pizza and beer, all in 2 ½ hours.
I learned that even though the staff at the cancer unit saw 100’s of people each day, when they saw Callum, it was like he was the only one in the world that day.
I learned that you can feel alone in a room of 50 people.
I learned about chemo drugs, anti nausea medication and that club soda can help relieve mouth sores.
I learned that we are lucky to have health care plans so that we didn’t have the worry of paying bills.
I learned that we had challenges, but that there is always someone out there facing a bigger challenge, and we need to be thankful for what we have.
I learned that we have many friends. I learned that things never stay the same.
I learned that one day you may feel paralyzed, not able to move or breathe, but that the next day you find renewed strength.
I learned that sometimes, you just never know when you are going to cry.
I learned I would do anything to have been the one to be sick if it would spare Callum the pain.
I learned how long it takes to get from Red Deer to Tom Baker Cancer Clinic in Calgary. I learned that we are surrounded by a family full of love.
I learned that cancer doesn’t mean death. Most importantly,
I learned that your life can be touched with cancer, but cancer doesn’t ever have to become your life.
My learning never stopped there. Oh my, I learned so much - and a lot I wished I'd never had to
learn. I have learned that my life continues, and I live my life to the fullest as much as possible. At
this point, I can'g say my life is getting "better." I still believe in my heart that my life would only be
"better" if Callum was here with me. I am happy, I am doing what I love to do and I look forward to
each and every day. I am grateful for the love of family and friends and the many opportunities I've
been given. I have a new life now. And it is great. It isn't necessarily better.
Nearly 10 years after that shocking day that spun our lives into years of turmoil - and joy - I dropped
of my book at the Medicine Hat & District Health Foundation gift shop at the Medicine Hat
Wow, what an unbelievable 10 years.
May you find peace, hope, and joy in every day.
You can find me at www.walkingthejourneytogetheralone.com
The book, Walking the Journey Together ... Alone, is on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com (and in
Amazon European and Australian distribution)