Piece By Piece

Another way I felt I could contribute to cancer awareness was to make and sell jewellery at a time when homemade pieces were popular.  A percentage of every sale was collected and sent to the Montreal Thoracic Research Foundation, a cancer research group my surgeon and his associate founded in 2004.  I specified that I wanted the money to go to stomach cancer research, so hopefully, there are others doing the same.  My pennies can’t find a cure, but it was a small gesture I could offer the surgeon and hospital that “cured” me.

Helping others comes easy.  Admittedly, I wish some of that comfort I gave others could have helped me through some rough moments during and after cancer.  I didn’t take full advantage of the volunteer that was available to me.  Being constantly ill made it difficult to be concerned about how I was feeling emotionally.  I was usually on medications for physical pain and nausea, so the opportunities and the will were lacking.

Although having attended a general cancer group meeting didn’t prove helpful for me, I do recommend joining groups that specialize in your specific cancer.  You can learn much more about how others deal with symptoms and consequences.  You may even discover great new friends in the process.

I intend to continue my volunteer work as long as I can, and pray I can bring even a little hope into the lives of patients and their caregivers.  I only wish I could do more…


Finally getting warmer in Montreal!  Enjoy…

Watching You Die

On many occasions I’ve been asked how I can bear watching people die.  Why would I want to expose myself to these sad situations knowing there may be such an end for myself?  Well, they didn’t really put it that way, but that was the question.  “The gift is greater than the pain.”

I know I’m doing much good when my support brings comfort to patients and their family.  Positive feedback and appreciation brings me serenity and fulfillment.  If there wasn’t a need, volunteer groups would cease to exist.

It is also easier to share our fears and suffering with a volunteer – who is most likely a stranger and available to listen – so we don’t add to the burden of our loved ones.  Patients understand that those around us have their own pain to deal with, so sometimes we suffer in silence.  We do need someone to hear our deepest thoughts about life and death, even though they can’t do anything about them.

Some patients don’t even have family or close friends they can turn to for support.  It is difficult knowing you’re on your deathbed.  It is horrific not having anyone there to hold your hand.

Most people want to feel love more than ever during their final moments – to share emotions they would never have otherwise.  Saying goodbye is important for those who need closure, or to accept the end is near.  None of us wants to leave this Earth knowing we will not be missed.

The belief that some wait to die when our loved ones are not around still holds true for me, and I am more than happy to have been spared that choice for now.

I am privileged to have a big family that is always there with me, even though we don’t necessarily share the pain verbally.


Waiting for Spring… where are you!?  It feels like Winter is starting all over again in Montreal.  Hope your weather is better than here!


Caution In Caring

Offering support is really simple.  But remain cautious towards judgments, whether or not you are a survivor yourself.  You do not know the extent of the other’s pain, tolerance, or their fate.

If you’ve been a caretaker, and decide to volunteer, you have a different perspective to a patient.  So please be careful in how you offer your wisdom, and pay attention to how it is received.  You must realize that if you are anyone but the patient, you are in no position to know how they feel.  You can acknowledge and try to console, but don’t claim to know.  You don’t.

We all have something special to offer others.  Whether a friend, relative, or stranger is fighting for their life, has an age-related issue, or simply needs assistance, a simple “let me help you” goes a long way.  And don’t wait for the patient to call you for help.  If you are sincere about helping someone, you will be there.  This is how I discovered who my true friends are.


Always wishing you a wonderful day.  Be cheerful, Spring is around the corner.