• shelley@heradvice.ca
  • Vancouver, Canada

My Mom was a Warrior

In the last year, I have felt my Mom’s presence in many ways. It has been hard for me before now, I have tried but didn’t always sense she was with me.
What I have learned about Cancer this last year makes my MOM a superhero, for real. I have met many friends who are on their survivor journey and who struggle daily with the side effects from chemotherapy and radiation; both treatments that my Mom endured many rounds of. She never complained about them. Never. She just did what they told her and warrior-ed on. Now being near others and seeing the horrific side effects and long lasting damage that these treatments have on a person, it seems almost unbelievable how she handled everything like she did.
We lived in Brandon when Mom was sick and it was the mid – late 80’s. In order to get treatment, you had to drive into Winnipeg. This was something we did regularly for figure skating, hockey, shopping or to see one of my Aunt’s – Helen or Verna. The drive was easy for us. We’d talk all the way there. Once we got there, Mom would drop me off at Polo Park, which for a kid from Brandon was our mecca to shop at. I was in my teens and so wandering the mall for a number of hours was not a problem. Mom would head to cancerCare for her treatment. She never let me go with her. Refused actually. Wouldn’t talk about it and essentially behaved as if it was something that wasn’t happening. I wonder what her thoughts were while she was there. She must have been scared. She must have had friends or workers who she conversed with. I wonder what they talked about. 
Once Mom was finished her treatment, she would meet me at the mall. I would show her something that I had chosen and she would usually buy it for me. She always thought everything looked “cute” on me, so she was the best to shop with. 🙂 We would then go to the Olive Garden for dinner and then hit the highway home. I loved those drives together. By the time we were out into the wide open prairies it was like I had forgotten what the purpose of our trip was.
It was on this day, 29 years ago that my Mom got her angel wings. 29 years… how is that even possible. I can hear her voice, her laugh and when I close my eyes I can imagine her sitting right here with me. I am the age now that my Mom was when she passed. I have thought of her and her amazing strength in a very different way since my diagnosis’.

My Mom was a warrior.

_________________________________________________________

Shortly after I had completed my surgeries to remove my ovarian cancer tumor and all of the other lady parts where it likes to reoccur, I went to a “Look good, Feel better” workshop. It is for people who have had a cancer diagnosis. You are treated to a couple hours of make up instruction and a whole whack of free make up and skin care. The free stuff was a bonus, but what I was really going there for was to make a friend. I was yearning to have a real friend who knew what I was feeling and shared my fears and determination. Someone I could talk to without filters. The workshop itself was quite interesting. The facilitator was one of those “Non-flexible Nancy’s”. In fact, one lady came a few minutes late and was turned away from being able to join us. It made me so uncomfortable and I could tell that this lovely woman sitting across from me was feeling the same way. We went through the motions of the workshop, learned our tips and suddenly it was over and we were asked to pack up our things and head out. WAIT!!!! I didn’t come for the make up, I came for a friend! How am I going to make a friend if we have to leave right now!? So, I blurted out, “What kind of cancer do you girls have?’ The first girl to respond was the one that had shared dismay with me earlier. Her name was Michele, I suspected she was around my age, maybe a bit younger and she told me she had lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain. She had never smoked a day in her life and grew up in a non smoking home. All of the ladies shared their brief story as we packed our things and headed on our way. I wished I had gotten emails or phone numbers. I wanted to talk more, and instead I was going home to wash my face with my new creamy cleanser.

A couple of days later, I got an email from the coordinator at the workshop. She was emailing me to pass along Michele’s email. Michele had contacted her in an attempt to connect with me. We were instant friends. We emailed regularly as Michele was on steroids at the time and the insomnia is terrible when you are taking them, so she would email me at any time of the day or night. Soon I went in for my mastectomies, and I too was up at all weird hours of the night so we were there for one another. I knew right away how smart she was. And kind, she was so kind. But I loved that she was also so bold. In talking about her cancer spreading or her symptoms, this sweet girl would suddenly drop an F bomb that totally took you off guard. She introduced me to the Paul Sugar support group here on the North Shore and I was able to join a support group in the spring as well. Her and I stayed in touch all summer, even while I was at the lake and just checked in with one another to be sure we were both doing okay. She was doing okay but her prognosis wasn’t good.

When I returned home from the lake in September, Michele had arranged a luncheon as she wanted me to meet some of her dear friends that she had met through her support group at the center. We had a great lunch, so much laughter and such a beautiful day. I added Lana and Nancy to my new friends list, thanks to Michele. The next week we actually all went camping, well not Michele as she wasn’t up to it, but two other ladies joined us, Shirlee and Judy. I could not be more grateful for the introduction to these women. We have a genuine, honest connection that is something I just can’t describe to you. It is so pure. The connections have moved me to hold true the rest of the connections in my life really. What a gift she gave me.

Yesterday, Michele joined my Mom and my dear friend Silke is heaven. Lana, Nancy, Judy and I all felt her presence at some point yesterday morning and right now as I type, I have had a chill brush over me. I know she is here. She loved my writing and was always urging me on. I will miss her and remember her for always.

My friend Michele was a warrior.

_________________________________________________________

My friend who urged me to write, to really put it out there, Silke, my friend who shared my writing with her oncology team and her chemo coordinator, Michele and the one who believed in my most all of her life, my Mom. I know they would be so proud of my first publication tomorrow. I think the timing is no coincidence. I promise continue to support those going through adversity, share my tools and experiences by writing and being there and I will continue to live a brave life with true connections always remembering to thank these women for their courage and determination.

I am a warrior.

In the last year, I have felt my Mom’s presence in many ways. It has been hard for me before now, I have tried but didn’t always sense she was with me.
What I have learned about Cancer this last year makes my MOM a superhero, for real. I have met many friends who are on their survivor journey and who struggle daily with the side effects from chemotherapy and radiation; both treatments that my Mom endured many rounds of. She never complained about them. Never. She just did what they told her and warrior-ed on. Now being near others and seeing the horrific side effects and long lasting damage that these treatments have on a person, it seems almost unbelievable how she handled everything like she did.
We lived in Brandon when Mom was sick and it was the mid – late 80’s. In order to get treatment, you had to drive into Winnipeg. This was something we did regularly for figure skating, hockey, shopping or to see one of my Aunt’s – Helen or Verna. The drive was easy for us. We’d talk all the way there. Once we got there, Mom would drop me off at Polo Park, which for a kid from Brandon was our mecca to shop at. I was in my teens and so wandering the mall for a number of hours was not a problem. Mom would head to cancerCare for her treatment. She never let me go with her. Refused actually. Wouldn’t talk about it and essentially behaved as if it was something that wasn’t happening. I wonder what her thoughts were while she was there. She must have been scared. She must have had friends or workers who she conversed with. I wonder what they talked about. 
Once Mom was finished her treatment, she would meet me at the mall. I would show her something that I had chosen and she would usually buy it for me. She always thought everything looked “cute” on me, so she was the best to shop with. 🙂 We would then go to the Olive Garden for dinner and then hit the highway home. I loved those drives together. By the time we were out into the wide open prairies it was like I had forgotten what the purpose of our trip was.
It was on this day, 29 years ago that my Mom got her angel wings. 29 years… how is that even possible. I can hear her voice, her laugh and when I close my eyes I can imagine her sitting right here with me. I am the age now that my Mom was when she passed. I have thought of her and her amazing strength in a very different way since my diagnosis’.

My Mom was a warrior.

_________________________________________________________

Shortly after I had completed my surgeries to remove my ovarian cancer tumor and all of the other lady parts where it likes to reoccur, I went to a “Look good, Feel better” workshop. It is for people who have had a cancer diagnosis. You are treated to a couple hours of make up instruction and a whole whack of free make up and skin care. The free stuff was a bonus, but what I was really going there for was to make a friend. I was yearning to have a real friend who knew what I was feeling and shared my fears and determination. Someone I could talk to without filters. The workshop itself was quite interesting. The facilitator was one of those “Non-flexible Nancy’s”. In fact, one lady came a few minutes late and was turned away from being able to join us. It made me so uncomfortable and I could tell that this lovely woman sitting across from me was feeling the same way. We went through the motions of the workshop, learned our tips and suddenly it was over and we were asked to pack up our things and head out. WAIT!!!! I didn’t come for the make up, I came for a friend! How am I going to make a friend if we have to leave right now!? So, I blurted out, “What kind of cancer do you girls have?’ The first girl to respond was the one that had shared dismay with me earlier. Her name was Michele, I suspected she was around my age, maybe a bit younger and she told me she had lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain. She had never smoked a day in her life and grew up in a non smoking home. All of the ladies shared their brief story as we packed our things and headed on our way. I wished I had gotten emails or phone numbers. I wanted to talk more, and instead I was going home to wash my face with my new creamy cleanser.

A couple of days later, I got an email from the coordinator at the workshop. She was emailing me to pass along Michele’s email. Michele had contacted her in an attempt to connect with me. We were instant friends. We emailed regularly as Michele was on steroids at the time and the insomnia is terrible when you are taking them, so she would email me at any time of the day or night. Soon I went in for my mastectomies, and I too was up at all weird hours of the night so we were there for one another. I knew right away how smart she was. And kind, she was so kind. But I loved that she was also so bold. In talking about her cancer spreading or her symptoms, this sweet girl would suddenly drop an F bomb that totally took you off guard. She introduced me to the Paul Sugar support group here on the North Shore and I was able to join a support group in the spring as well. Her and I stayed in touch all summer, even while I was at the lake and just checked in with one another to be sure we were both doing okay. She was doing okay but her prognosis wasn’t good.

When I returned home from the lake in September, Michele had arranged a luncheon as she wanted me to meet some of her dear friends that she had met through her support group at the center. We had a great lunch, so much laughter and such a beautiful day. I added Lana and Nancy to my new friends list, thanks to Michele. The next week we actually all went camping, well not Michele as she wasn’t up to it, but two other ladies joined us, Shirlee and Judy. I could not be more grateful for the introduction to these women. We have a genuine, honest connection that is something I just can’t describe to you. It is so pure. The connections have moved me to hold true the rest of the connections in my life really. What a gift she gave me.

Yesterday, Michele joined my Mom and my dear friend Silke is heaven. Lana, Nancy, Judy and I all felt her presence at some point yesterday morning and right now as I type, I have had a chill brush over me. I know she is here. She loved my writing and was always urging me on. I will miss her and remember her for always.

My friend Michele was a warrior.

_________________________________________________________

My friend who urged me to write, to really put it out there, Silke, my friend who shared my writing with her oncology team and her chemo coordinator, Michele and the one who believed in my most all of her life, my Mom. I know they would be so proud of my first publication tomorrow. I think the timing is no coincidence. I promise continue to support those going through adversity, share my tools and experiences by writing and being there and I will continue to live a brave life with true connections always remembering to thank these women for their courage and determination.

I am a warrior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOlWW-6KvOo
My Warrior women Michelle, Nancy, Judy and Lana

Silke aka Warrior

Shirlee, Lana, Nancy, Judy and I These women are the best thing about having a cancer diagnosis. I wouldn’t have meet them and learned so many wonderful things from them without it. #warriors


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