The bumpy road to recovery

Want some updates? Here they are:

I am taking a hiatus from work… again. The reasons are complicated so I will not go into the finer details. But essentially, I wasn’t feeling great, and it looks like my return to work may have been a bit premature. I felt very conflicted about this at first. I felt like a failure, like I had let myself down. And then I decided that I might be being a bit hard on myself and that my health is numero uno in terms of my priorities right now. So I am taking a bit of extra time to recover, continue my treatments, and figure my life out. All that fun stuff.

I had a late-night MRI a couple nights ago to follow up on some pain I’ve been experiencing. Obviously, we hope for nothing out of the ordinary. Because something out of the ordinary would be very unfortunate in this case. Sometimes it feels as though my whole life is just waiting for results. Waiting for life, or waiting for death. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. I really want to move past this phase, as it is getting exhausting.

Speaking of exhausting, my nightly hot flashes/sweats are back with a vengeance. I got all cocky when they went away, thinking, this hormone stuff is no big deal, I can do this, no problem. But for whatever reason, my body is having a very strong reaction to the tiny little pill I am swallowing every night, causing my face to feel as though it is melting off my body. Unfortunately, it tends to be worse at night, which means I am not sleeping very much. There is also construction going on outside my house that starts early every morning, right as I am trying to get some extra hours of zzz’s in. I fantasize about going over to the construction site in my pajamas, with my hair a big frazzled mess, and yelling at the workers, “HELLO I HAVE CANCER AND I’VE HAD A REALLY CRAP YEAR AND I NEED TO SLEEP SO CAN YOU ALL PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP OR I WILL PUNCH YOU ALL IN YOUR UGLY FACES.” But I just really don’t want to be that person. Not yet.

Last week, I spoke at the University of Toronto to the second year medical students. They were studying oncology that week, and yet there wasn’t any plan to actually speak to a patient living with cancer. Enter your favourite, friendly cancer gal to save the day. I prepared a quick little powerpoint entitled “My Cancer Story” where I attempted to go from the beginning to the current stage of my cancer experience. When creating the powerpoint, I realized how long and complicated my story really is. I only had time to really touch upon the basics. At first I was worried I wouldn’t have enough to say. But as it turns out… I have a lot to say. A lot.

I loved speaking to this room full of students. I loved how engaged they were, and how much they wanted to learn, and how I actually had something to teach them, even though I have absolutely no medical background. All I have is my life experience, which, apparently, people seem to find a lot of value in. The students had the chance to ask me questions, and during that time they also revealed to me me that many of them have been reading the blog. They told me about how it has impacted them, in both their learning and their personal lives. I was really touched by how appreciative they were and it made me better understand the power of sharing my story. Some positives really are coming out of the negative (but note: this does NOT mean I am thankful for my cancer. I still hate cancer and think it’s terrible and do not recommend it as a method of creating social change. I repeat: CANCER IS BAD.).

The class presented me with THE BEST mini cupcakes and they all signed a card. There were so many notes that they wrote all over the back and had to add sticky notes on top of the other notes. I was blown away by how thoughtful they were.
The class presented me with THE BEST mini cupcakes and they all signed a card. There were so many notes that they wrote all over the back and had to add sticky notes on top of the other notes. I was blown away by how thoughtful they were.

And my last update for now: I have started to write. A book. There, I said it. So now I have to do it. It might take several years. I might never finish it. It might be a huge bore. It might never get published.

But, whatever. None of that is as bad as cancer. And if I’m doing the glass half full thing, then I should also entertain the other possibility: That I’ll write a book, someone will publish it, it will become a bestseller, a famous director will want to turn it into a movie and hire me to adapt it into a screenplay (um hi, I’m not letting some dummy screenwriter write my life story, thank you very much), I will be portrayed by some awesome young starlet and we will become great friends, and the movie will win all sorts of Oscars and I’ll be the next big thing in Hollywood and eventually everyone will forget I ever even had cancer.

Why not.


22 thoughts on “The bumpy road to recovery

  1. Steph, I just wanted to wish you health and happiness always. I remember fondly seeing your cheery face at our door during the high school years. Enjoy your vacation!

    Best wishes from Ami and I,
    Debbi (Mathew’s mom)

  2. I know writing a book can sound cliche – everyone wants to write one, but despite this, there’s a startling lack of good writers. You’re a good writer, and WE NEED THE GOOD WRITING! Also, living rich and famous doesn’t sound so bad either.

  3. Sorry about those night sweats. Well, more to the point, I’m sorry about the darn cancer… Sounds like you made an impact when you spoke to those medical students. It’s so important for them to hear a real cancer person talk about cancer. Kudos to you! And good luck with the book. I’m working on one as well. I love reading other people’s stories, so I’ll be ready to read yours whenever you get it done. Hope the MRI results turn out okay.

  4. One thing your book won’t be is boring!! You go for it girl. You are a gift to the world…. do you realize how many patients those med students will be so much more empathetic with because of you? I love your vision of book/movie/starlet etc. Except you are the starlet!

  5. The book will be tops. I’ll always lend a critical editorial eye if need be. I like talking about writing just a little more than I like annoying you.

    1. Thank you! And I just remembered your message, which also reminded me that I neglected to write about my wonderful weekend involving a fancy hotel suite. Oops! Next time.

  6. Thanks for the updates. I wish you all the luck in the world! It was so nice to run into you and your sis yesterday! Hope to see you again soon!

  7. Steph, I am looking forward reading your book and watching the movie, and I can say this is my cuz, and how dam proud I am of you. I don’t see you much except maybe at family get together’s but I read your blog all the time !!! You sure have alot of support and love with your family and friends. Hugs & xoxo

  8. Hi Steph! yes…we really do need to take care of ourselves first and foremost. I wish you all the best on your book and hopefully a blockbuster movie:) re your MRI…you are in my thoughts and prayers! Thanks for sharing! xo Donna

      1. awww…umm well u always write such inspiring posts! P.S. Cancer does SUCK! I started my peer support volunteer training with the CCS last night. Goodness it was emotional. I met two other cancer survivors and a cancer caregiver. Got a bit choked up when I had to share my story but all in all…a good session. I’m really looking forward to supporting a few thyroid cancer patients.

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