Nov 13

What you can do to help a friend going through cancer

Last night, I got a message from an old friend. Not our annual ‘it’s almost thanksgiving so let’s talk about Jesus and the Kosher Turkey’ message (still one of my all time favorite things on the internet, ever). The kind of message that sadly pops up too often on my screen: ‘My friend is starting chemo. What can I do to help her?’

I never wanted to be an expert at this, but if I have to be good at something, let this be it.  I’ve written about this before, but with more time and distance from treatment, it might be a good time to go over it again.

My first stab at is was Social Niceties and the Etiquette of Cancer. I re-read that post often. If you take one thing away from it, let it be this: not everyone wants to hear they look good. Some people do. Figure out which one your friend is and then respect it. if she is going to be all fancy and put on eyebrows, tell her they look great. And if she is going to wrap a t-shirt around her head and walk around in pajama pants, don’t tell her she looks good. She knows she doesn’t and she doesn’t care.

The second stab was more of a list of do’s and don’t, and this is what i would like to expand on, especially when it comes to chemo, since this is what my friend was asking about last night: what can we do to help her through chemo?

  • our motto was ‘socks, charger, knitting’ – keep it simple but bring the essentials to get through the day. It takes a long time, it’s very boring, your phone battery will die.
  • I would say tablet and movies over books. I lost all ability to concentrate and read. I would read the same page over and over again and not remember what I was reading. People magazine is great, no brain cells required.
  • a soft blanket is nice. chemo rooms are notoriously cold and hospital blankets tend to be rare.
  • snacks: your taste buds are shot to hell and you might not have much of an appetite, but bringing snacks is a good idea because once you are hooked up to the IV, you are not going anywhere. My snack of choice was chips because the salt killed the metal taste.
  • Don’t let your friend go alone. This is a touchy one to write about, because I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t have support. But because life is life and my chemo fell during everyone’s summer vacations, I went alone, a lot. and it was brutal. So lonely and boring. So if you know someone going through chemo, make sure *someone* pops in on them for a little while each time. Doesn’t have to be the whole day. You could just drop by, spill your coffee all over the floor and go back to work. It’s been done. ;-)
  • Pack her freezer. Hot meals are GREAT. A well stocked freezer is even better. Because of afore-mentioned lost tastebuds, and because if there are kids in the house, having the flexibility of picking what you feel like eating AND not having to cook is really the best gift you can give someone. Whatever you do, go easy on the banana bread.
  • Gaviscon! or any other heart-burn med of your choosing. Buy it and send it to their house in a care package. Because with chemo comes heartburn, and it usually comes at 2 am.
  • Do the reaching out. Don’t expect your sick friend to call you and say ‘hey, it would be great if you could bring me chips and People magazine’ NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. When people are fighting cancer, tasting metal, losing their hair and peeing red chemo, the don’t know that they want chips and People magazine. YOU are the one with the working brain cells, figure it out!
  • If the person has kids, offer to do something with or for them. Play dates, movies, food, LUNCHES, anything. the kids are going through hell too. And the parents are overwhelmed.
  • I had a housekeeper, so I didn’t have to worry about household chores. But I know this is a HUGE help. So if you can pop in, say hi, throw in a load of laundry or change the cat litter box, your friend will love you forever.
  • Don’t make blanket offers. ‘call me if you need anything’ is like saying: ‘good luck with that, I have no idea what to do so I’ll just pretend I want to help and I’ll do nothing’. Do something. Don’t know what to do? you can never go wrong with chips and People magazine

Nov 10

Beware of the rainbows

The thing about rainbows is that they only happen when there is rain. And rain comes from clouds.

Let’s start with the rainbows: I have been on a work-high, the main job is super interesting and I love it. I also picked up a few side projects, and a big client I did a brainstorming for a few months back is ready to move forward and booked me for some more stuff. Then I saw online that someone I met at a networking event lost her publisher, I sent her a FB message, and next thing you know, I am working with the most fun people ever, putting together a Kickstarter to get her book done.


DivingGirl loves her new team and is going super well. First big competition set for late November. RockingGirl is picking a high-school. Both of them participated in the #girlslearncode event at Google and loved it.

Rainbows. Everywhere.

Except that our furnace is broken beyond repair and we have to order a new one and out house is HUGE and OLD so it’s going to be an epic thing to fix. – Minor cloud.

Jay has been coughing and they saw <something> during a broncoscopy. Slightly bigger cloud.

Turns out it’s the aspergillus growing back, and it’s resistant to the awful drug he was one. Serious cloud.

Today, Divergirl’s platelets have dropped again and the doctor-I-don’t-like was not nice and told me to pull her out of diving and keep her on the couch. BIG cloud. (waiting to speak to Dr-I-Like before making a decision)

And now as I type this, Kickstarter is insisting we sub-title our video into English, even though the book is in French. OK, tiny cloud, but really not needed in this bad weather.

Oct 14

My Vagina doesn’t want your discount

Please pardon the serious post today. I got into a twitter fight with a businessman today over a discount offered to women only (the details are not important, I don’t want to give them any attention.)

I said that offering women-only a reduced price to a service was sexist. He told me I was taking political correctness too far. Some of my female friends were equally aghast, several of them shared news articles about it on FB. But a greater number of women were like ‘take the discount, what’s the big deal?’. I was frankly surprised at how many women were ok with taking a discount meant only for women.

The big deal is this: My vagina does not warrant me a discount. I want to get paid the same as a man, I want to have the same right and privileges as a man. So if I accept a discount based on the sole fact that I’m a woman, it’s wrong. Think about it for one second. If the promo had been in reverse and men only were offered a discount on the same service, there would be an UPROAR.

And yes, it extends to all women-only prices: ladies’ nights at bars: sexist. Again, think about it: Mens’ night, 2 for 1 beer…. UPROAR.

Just because it’s a discount and thus an advantage doesn’t mean it’s not sexist. It is the reason why I don’t have the big discount card all my friends have (again, not naming it), because it panders to women only. It’s wrong. It’s the reason why my skin crawls when someone calls me a mom-preneur…. wait, is my husband a dad-preneur? Why is being a woman who is an entrepreneur related to my status as a mother (as a mom actually. because moms are cute, mothers are serious)

So I will continue to vote, and demand equal pay. And in return, I’ll pay full price, thank you very much. Unless you want to offer your discount equally to men and women.


(the reason why this blew into a big thing is that I now have to pull out of a cancer fundraiser because it is held at this business and I stand by my principles and won’t go there)

Oct 10

#pinkwashing rant: the NFL

I am Canadian. I do not watch football, except maybe the Grey Cup if the Als are in it and it’s -22 and snowing, then it’s just an excuse to drink beer. I have seen the Superbowl a few times, mostly because it coincided with cruises with took or visits to my friend L in NJ.

I do know, however, that the NFL makes a HUGE show of <supporting> breast cancer in October. Everything turns pink. Don’t even get me started on the irony of an organization to looks away from domestic abuse sponsering events to ‘save the tatas’….. but when you buy your pink NFL jersey, so you know that you are in fact NOT donating a single dollar to research? Not ONE dollar…..


So they donate to ‘awareness’ campaigns but cannot name the organizations or locations that they donate to. An organizatino of that size, with that kind of money, could easily fund an entire research program, a special wing in a hospital, SOMEThING significant, and slap their big ol’ NFL logo on it. I would have NO PROBLEM with that, because if we see where the money is going, that’s fine. But to use this disease as a marketing ploy and not be clear about the amount and the destination of the funds? That is the definition of #pinkwashing

Oct 06

Daily Pink Rant: the toolbelt

My friend and teammate M found this at Canadian Tire this weekend and posted it on my FB wall.



My immediate reaction was: OMG I’m going to puke! To which N responded with: here, use this:toolbucket


Now, I did the research: they donate 1$ for each tool-belt or bucket sold, which on an 18$ tool-belt is not too bad, but again, I must ask:

  • how many pink tool-belts do you think they sell, so how much money are they donating? 1000? 2500?
  • how insulting and condescending is it to sell a pink tool-belt in the first place? I own A LOT of tools, none of them are pink!
  • If they really want to donate, couldn’t they just say ‘Proud supporter of the Canadian Breast Cancer Fondation’ on the tag and donate for ALL the tool-belts, including the manly ones? (PS, men get breast cancer too…. #shocker )


PS: I once tried to explain Canadian Tire to a foreigner: Well, it’s an auto-parts store that obviously sells tires. But also toasters and christmas trees and hockey equipment, you know, all things Canadian. And they give you Canadian Tire money back…..

Oct 05

Pink, well done

so not every company that joins #pinktober is evil.

CIBC is a Canadian Bank. And they have raised over 25 MILLIONS for breast cancer research. I have run it once, with my AMAZING friend D, the quiet one, the one who never takes the spotlight but takes my kids, the one who’s name is never in the posts, but makes sure everyone in my house is fed. D. is amazing beyond words. She runs the CIBC Run for the Cure, she ran it BEFORE I had cancer, she ran it while I had cancer, and she ran it again now that I am cancer free.

My other friend D, the first one who ever babysat SQ, ran in Toronto. I miss her so much. She has FOUR little girls…. that’s a lot of boobs to check!!!

And then, there is Nalie. My sister in cancer-ness. She was diagnosed after I was, but much, much younger. One time, I ran into her in the plastics waiting room. And then she took the awesome Rads team over and turned them into media rock stars (I never did have the balls to take video in rads). While I became the poster-child for The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers, Nalie became the poster-child for the CIBC Run for the Cure.

There are organizations and companies who get it right. I donated to Nalie, and if I haven’t bleed you dry yet, please make sure she gets to 20K. I know what it feels like to reach your fundraising goal!

Oct 03

today’s rant: tweezers

isn’t it nice of Tweezerman to donate 1$ for each of their ‘special edition breast cancer awareness tweezers’ to Komen?

So, here are the 22$ and 40$ special edition, pink of course, tweezers… (for 40$ they are glittery!)

tweezers2 tweezrs1

1$. I mean, if you REALLY need tweezers, I guess it’s ok.  But how many tweezers do you think they sell in a month? and why don’t they donate if you buy silver or red ones?

But tweezers? here is the awareness tie-in: YOU EYEBROWS ARE GOING TO FALL OFF and they may not all come back.


Oct 02

the almost-daily pink rant

I’ve decided to try to post every day in October to counter the onslaught of #pinktober.

I took a screen shot rather than link because I don’t want even ONE person to click on this, but seriously, take a look:

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 12.12.30 PM


so we’ve got Clinique donating 10$ per bottle of the regular cream with the charms, which is more expensive than the regular cream, so they are charging you for your donation.

Then a 50$ scarf, of which 20% of the proceeds will be donated. Do you know when they say that, the mean 20% of the NET profits, which on a scarf like this is probably 20$. So  4$ donation….

The wine company says they will donate 50% and some of the makeup brands are donating a fixed aboutn (ie 12$ per lipstick). But seriously, just find a woman in need and make her a meal. Donate directly to the hospital. Don<t buy into this, please.

Sep 30

no #pinkwashing here

’twas the last night of September and all through the interwebs,

the snarky cancer-bitches were ready to snark.



ok, it doesn’t really work…. but tomorrow is October 1st. aka #pinktober  - you can buy a pink KitKat, Swiffer, Chicken Soup, nail polish (full of cancer chemicals), make-up, and my all time favorite, a snow-brush. This is what I have to say:



Donate or don’t, it’s not really my focus. Just please don’t buy something that’s been pink-ified with a ribbon. Those companies do not give a SHIT if I live or die, they don’t care if their .1% donation lands in the hands of researchers… it’s all marketing. Yes, the organisation that I support takes a cut. You don’t get 1500 people to walk 60 kms in 2 days without some kind of ‘machine’ behind it. But I also know the money gets to the hospital. I know, because my nurse tells me: my Herceptin study was funded by the walk.

Donate, or don’t. But for heaven’s sake, don’t pink-wash my struggle to live.

Sep 15

Forward Motion

Somehow, while cleaning up my old store website, I broke my blog, and thus it was offline for a week. And then, I didn’t know how to fix it. There are many things on the internet I am a whiz at. Cpanels and public_html folders, not so much. Luckily for me, my host, Camelot-Hosting, has the most amazing team and with the snap of a finger, I’m back!

I’m the kind of person who is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, the other next bad thing to happen, because, HELLO, have you seen the way things go in my life? SOMETHING always happens. But right now, in this moment, we are on a bit of a good streak.

Work is going well, I am feeling challenged, in a good way, and I am really enjoying the tasks assigned to me. I’ve also been on a mission to declutter our house and finally get to projects I have been ignoring for years, thus we now have a TV in our living room and I recovered 1 of 2 chairs in there. Knowing me, it will be another 4 years before I get to the second chair!

The best thing though is DiverGirl, aka my youngest. They still can’t explain the ITP – she is very A-typical. But with weekly treatment for the last 6 weeks, she has made a very slow but steady climb from 12,000 to 44,000. We were aiming for 75K to resume diving, but the doctors all agree that she has probably never been that high. So they cleared her to dive from the side of the pool.

Which she took to mean: let’s go on the 5 meter platform and dive head-first. I nodded my approval from the bleachers because 1) there was no way to stop her and 2) it was a trial for a high-level performance team. We then waited anxiously for 4 days to hear. It’s a long story but basically her beloved coach has moved up in rank and is joining this team to train National athletes. He was offered the opportunity to trial 8 of his athletes to transfer with him. Mostly his teenagers in the student-athlete programs. But he invited DiverGirl to try to. And what do you know? She was one of only 2 they picked!!!!

Starting tonight, she is a member of the elite team. It will involve an unbelieavable amount of driving and schlepping 3 to 4 nights a week and we will only get to eat dinner as a family on weekends, something i had SWORN would never happen. But she is awesome, and she deserves to reach for the stars!

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