Calling All Angels

When I was going through cancer treatment, I often thought about how much more difficult everything would be if we had a young child to take care of. Part of me wished we did have one, so I didn’t have to take on the added concern over possibly never being able to have children. But the other part of me felt that since I could barely take care of myself, I couldn’t imagine having to care for and worry about a small human being.

I have a huge admiration for young moms who are diagnosed with cancer. I have known them and witnessed their unbelievable strength, firsthand. It is such an unfair position to be in, and unfortunately, there are many women who find themselves in the very tricky situation of having to juggle being a mom and being a cancer patient.

For a lot of moms, especially those without a lot of family or financial support, this is an extremely challenging struggle, and one that causes added grief during an already overly stressful time.

There is a brilliant organization that was created to deal with this issue, based in Toronto, called the Nanny Angel Network. They provide free in-home child care to mothers who are undergoing cancer treatment by sending in volunteers who have a professional background working with and caring for children. These “Nanny Angels” want to find a meaningful way to give back to the community, and as a result, they make a huge difference in the lives of families who are greatly in need of help. People helping people. What is better than that?

So why am I blathering on about this, you might ask? Well, I have just started working with the Nanny Angel Network and have been tasked with recruiting new Nanny Angels and doing some outreach. Sadly, there are a lot of moms in and around the Toronto area who desperately need some relief, and there are not enough volunteers to meet that demand.

By now, you might be thinking, This is amazing! I am so touched! How do I help?!

I am very glad you asked that, kind reader!

If you live in or near any of the areas listed on this page, then chances are, we need your help. ASAP. You must have a minimum of one year of professional child care experience and be able to commit a mere 5 hours of your time per month. So if you’re a retired teacher, a youth social worker, a former camp counselor extraordinaire – then we need you. And you should volunteer. Because it’s a good thing to do. And will make a mom going through a rough time very, very happy. And you will make me happy. Everyone wins!

If you want to get involved, or know of a person/group who might want to help out, you can send an email to admin@nannyangelnetwork.com. And then, lucky you, you will get to correspond with me directly. Truly, the icing on the cake of this sales pitch, am I right?

So please, spread the word and let’s get this thing going. The more successful it is, the more likely it can someday expand to different areas and we can take over the country and then the WORLD, with Nanny Angels falling from the sky à la Marry Poppins (okay, maybe I am venturing into fantasy land a bit, but hey, you gotta think big).

Sunny days

This past winter was a particularly miserable one for the city of Toronto, where I live. Cold, windy, grey, and what appeared to be never-ending. I often felt as though the weather outside was mimicking my own misery and sickness. That spring would come as I started to emerge from the darkness. I realize it sounds very narcissistic, to believe that I somehow can control the weather. But sure enough, this past week as I started to heal from my latest surgery and as my mood began to lift, the sun came out, the tree buds bloomed, and everyone seemed to let out a collective sigh of relief. We made it through the worst.

I made it through the worst.

I’ve been having quite a lot of, dare I say, fun the past few days. Friday I had my treatment, which ran just about as smoothly as that kind of thing can. Service in the chemo ward was top-notch, and I received multiple offers of pillows and apple juice. It was also fairly quiet, and no one around me appeared to be dying, which is always a nice bonus. Afterward, my mom and I met my sister and we got some frozen yogurt and went to the park and popped into a few boutiques. Then in the evening, the hubs and I went for a delicious dinner, where we sat on a patio, and relished the moment.  By the end of the day, I don’t think I even remembered that I had just had drugs injected into a vein near my neck a few hours earlier. Score.

Yesterday, I continued on my quest to be a normal young person in the city. After having a nice visit with my aunt, uncle, and little cousin (I am devouring my aunt’s butterscotch banana bread right now!) I had a nice walk through my neighbourhood and around the park and surrounding area. My feet ached from wearing terrible sandals. A regular person kind of ache. Not a chemo ache. There is a very, very big difference, and I was glad for it. Then at night, we went to see Iron Man 3.

Yesterday, getting ready for my date with Robert Downey (and my husband).
Yesterday, getting ready for my date with Robert Downey (and my husband).

I don’t know how to properly convey how excited I was to do something as simple as see a big blockbuster movie on its opening weekend. It has been a long time since I was able to do something like that. To be able to say I feel like doing this thing that many other people will be doing at the same time and then actually do it. It was amazing. Climbing the stairs up the large theatre was a bit of a challenge, but that was the only time I felt limited. I wore my wig, and from what I can tell, blended right in with the masses. Just another 20-something out on date night, watching a movie, wearing ridiculous 3D glasses. I enjoyed every second of it. I thought about how far special effects have come, and how watching a movie is one of my greatest simple pleasures. And I did not think about cancer. Explosions, and fast cars, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s abs. But not cancer.

Things are still difficult for me. My muscle and joint pain makes me feel as though I am a brittle old lady. When I sit down on the ground, it takes some serious problem solving to get myself back up. I am waking up each day, waiting for it to subside, but so far the pain is sticking around. I am also still wrestling with the emotional trauma from everything I have experienced. Sometimes it is these very moments, when I’m feeling happy and alive, that the fear creeps in. What if this doesn’t last too long? What if this is just a tease? What if I have a limited amount of happy, good days left, and then it all goes to shit? It is so hard to push these thoughts aside and it’s something I will have to work on. I don’t expect to have it all figured out anytime soon. But I’m trying.

I have my next phase of treatment approaching. I will go into more detail as it gets closer, but for now I don’t want to think about it for any longer than it takes me to type this sentence. I want to be young, and I want to play in the sun. So I’m going to go do that.

See ya.