Thank You For Letting Me Help You

In February of 2006, ten months after my treatments, I called Hope & Cope to express my urge to volunteer.  The Survivorship Program Coordinator told me it was normal protocol to wait one year, following the completion of our treatments, before volunteering.  I imagine the reason for that is to assure your mental, emotional, and physical capacity, before you can offer strength to others.

She emailed a profile form to complete with personal details, diagnosis, and treatment information.  An application went further into my experience with cancer, requesting details about how I coped and what I can offer others.  We also spoke about my interest in volunteering and what capacity I would offer.  Peer mentoring, telephone communication with patients or family members, would make it easier for me to provide more of my time.  She seemed to like what she heard, and read from the forms I submitted, so she decided I was ready.  I was so happy to be accepted, and excited to get started, even though I wasn’t sure if I would do well.


Do you volunteer in any capacity?


All Alone

It had just dawned on me that I may be leaving my daughter.  Estranged from every one, I felt that even this tiny innocent person I brought into the world saw her mother slowly disappearing.

Why was I being whisked away so suddenly from the life that was just taking shape?  No sense came from questioning this path of injustice.  No peace felt from unacceptance of this tragedy.  No anger arose from the deep sadness of my possible demise.  God had a plan for me, but I wished I could see what it was.

Was I denying my innermost fears or was I simply trying to cope?  Is strength giving me the motivation to forge through?  Are we wired to unburden the psychological impact of a crisis, or will the trauma manifest itself in uncontrollable ways later on?


My husband didn’t say a word.  He stood close to me, but I don’t remember a touch, maybe just his hand to mine.  It wasn’t easy for him to be the comforting person in such a poignant moment.

Mariano is by no means a big talker, especially when it comes to sharing emotions.  Since this memoir is all about honesty, I must admit that he’s not the first person I’d run to for support.  I’m not condoning such behavior, nor am I excusing it, it’s just the way he is.

We must do whatever we can to help those we love, right – even if it makes us uncomfortable, even if all we want is the freedom to cry.  This experience has taught me that we all need emotional support, including myself.


When you think you’re not strong enough to help someone through a tragedy, remember that all you need to do is be there, even if it means you can’t hold back your tears.  That in itself will bring you closer and show your love and support to the one that needs it.  Be well.


“Mommy Loves You”

I felt tears coming, so I rushed out of the room.  I didn’t want Isabella to see me crying.  It was an overwhelming discovery I hadn’t felt during the investigation, until that moment.

Once in the family room, I found myself looking for support from the wall where that three-picture vertical frame now hangs.  I broke into a desperate cry, unmasking the fear that finally told me I could be dying.

When my husband heard me, he walked over.

“I don’t want to die.”

My daughter must have heard us or noticed we walked away from her in that big house she initially found intimidating – but a house not big enough to silence the sadness.  She came close to me, and wrapped her tiny arms around my leg, sensing something was wrong.

I could feel Isabella’s love as well as her awareness of the sadness around her.  Resting my hand on her head was about all I could muster.  Finally, I whispered through my salty lips, “Mommy loves you.”


Hold your children tonight… for we do not know where we will be tomorrow.


The Dead Cow

So much time went by before I could get him out of that park, that I began having strong cramps in the abdomen.  They caused so much agony that they prevented me from eating properly when we finally headed to a restaurant.  After having eaten, the cramps simply dulled.  What was stirring there?  I could only sleep off the pain that night.

I added, “And don’t forget that fall in the washroom at my parents’ house.”

Mariano also admitted in recent years that from time to time he could taste or smell some thing odd during a kiss, “like raw meat or blood.”  I felt terrible that he had to endure that.  No one likes bad breath.  I think he was spooked by the realization that it was indeed blood.  Hopefully, I’m forgiven.

While sharing these moments with Mariano, I suddenly felt the seriousness of my deteriorating health.  This wasn’t a simple fever or a sprained ankle, it was life or death.  I may not come out of this.  My life could end very soon.


Would you tell someone you love they have bad breath?

Getting To Know You

There was another moment in my dining room one evening, soon after my diagnosis.  My husband and I were finishing up with dinner.  Isabella had already eaten, and was playing in the living room that was open to the dining area.  She was oblivious to the horror that had entered our lives.  Thank Heaven!

Mariano and I were sharing our thoughts about how I could have been struck with this gastric cancer.  We were questioning the various health issues I had experienced in the recent past, attempting to piece together an explanation.  None of it made sense, but some circumstances should have been clear signs of potential trouble.

He reminded me of the time he had taken me to a park one Saturday afternoon, early in our dating phase.  Atop a small hill off the island of Montreal, we spent some time relaxing together.  It was beautifully green and tranquil all around us, and with the pretty view of Old Montreal across the river, you didn’t want to leave.

Mariano and I were getting to know one other through conversation.  He was thirty-five and I was twenty-nine, so we had a vested interest in the company we were sharing our time with.

Once early evening came around, I became famished.  I told him, “We should get something to eat.”  Well, Mariano is never in a rush to go anywhere – especially when he’s enjoying the scenery (and hopefully the company.)


Welcome 2018!  Welcome PEACE, LOVE, and HAPPINESS.  To all of you, I wish you the very best for the new year and always!  Remember to laugh and enjoy every moment you can, appreciate all those in your life, and all that has been given to you.  Be kind, and love yourself too.  Wishing each of you the best of physical, mental, and spiritual health.