Friday, June 10, 2011

My Radiation Team | Halifax, NS Breast Cancer Patient

My radiation team has been fabulous.  They have been kind, friendly, warm, and funny.  They have done their jobs professionally, yet with a smile.  That in itself made a huge difference.

It is not the most obviously normal thing to do - to strip off part of your clothing, lay yourself bare, and have strangers stare and then poke and prod at you.  But the team made the awkward... well, still awkward, but less embarrassing ;-).  While I dealt with their sometimes cold hands (you know who you are!), they dealt with my lame attempts at humour and breaking the ice (while they crowded around staring at my chest, I suggested that I normally expect dinner before showing the girls off).

They asked me how I was doing, checked out my skin, offered advice.  They remembered me and made me feel like I wasn't just another person rolling through their day.

Rhonda, Adam, Sheri, Keltie, Katie, Jenna, Lisa and Shawn (arggggghhhh I feel as though I'm forgetting someone!) - thank you, thank you, thank you.  I hope you always remember that you made a difference to me and my treatment, as I'm sure you have with many others.  I, too, hope I never see you again; but, I know that if I do, I will be in good hands.

For others going through radiation treatments in Halifax, I hope you get some of my team, they'll take good care of you.


email:  karenk{at}

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jason Writes... | Halifax, NS

The finish line is in sight, with my last radiation treatment just around the corner.  With that in mind, Jason decided it was his turn to blog.  I have no words, just tears and appreciation.  

In December 2010, a few days before Christmas, Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news was very unexpected since only two months before she had gone for a breast exam and received a clean bill of health. Luckily, she has almost completed her radiation therapy and is on the road to recovery.

Since the diagnosis, there have been dozens of appointments, information sessions and tests with countless doctors, specialists, technicians and nurses. From the start, these health professionals have gone above and beyond their job descriptions and have been nothing but immensely helpful, kind, considerate and patient not only with us but with the half dozen or so of Karen's friends and relatives who have accompanied her into the various hospitals, waiting rooms and offices that she has had to frequent during this ordeal. So I would like to thank Dr. Calnen, Dr. Porter, Dr. Rutledge, Dr. Rayson, Margaret, Charlotte, Marsha, all the nurses, their staff and everyone else who has crossed our paths over the past several months.  It is very heartening to know that our health care system is filled with such people.

I also want to thank Karen's friends and co-workers who have offered kind words, prayers and 'Kare packages.' The outpouring of support from these people really touched her and helped her get through some of the tougher days. Thank you to Dy, Dr. Shelly, Karla, Krista, Maria, DeAnna and 'Matherine'  and to the dozens of others who have helped along the way.

I would especially like to thank Karen's Team. All of the people who sat in waiting rooms with her, made somewhat small doctor offices even more cramped with their presence, asked questions and became quasi experts on breast cancer.  Included in this team are Karen's wonderful extended family. They have come to all of her appointments despite their busy personal and professional lives and all have welcomed me into their homes with open arms despite not knowing me from Adam. I enjoyed many home cooked meals, conversations and jokes (special thanks to the kids) thanks to them . So to Jamie and Ann, Lori, Gary, Nicholas, Shelley, Sandra, John, Brenda, Ray, Ardith, Owen, Olivia, Jack and Abby, thank you.

Most importantly, I want to thank Karen for being so strong during this time. A little over a year ago she was there for me and helped me when I needed her the most and I don't know what I would have done without her. I will always be indebted to her for being so strong, kind and compassionate during those days.

True to form, Karen has handled her diagnosis and treatment with grace and strength from day one and I am blessed to have her in my life and proud of her for holding her head up high and fighting and giving me, and all of us, a lot more time to spend with her.

Thank you,

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Feel the Love | Halifax, NS Breast Cancer Patient

Oh, I feel the love.  And I've felt it all along my journey - from my family and friends, co-workers, facebook friends; from gifts, notecards, flowers, phone calls, and facebook messages.  You all have lifted me up and carried me along this journey.

I keep my cards out where I can see them and I regularly pick them up and read through them.  I usually cry when I do it - but they are tears of love and a heart full of appreciation.

Your support has meant the world to me and I thank you so much for it.

email:  karenk{at}

Reading at the Dinner Table | Halifax, NS

We sat across from each other at the table in the restaurant.  We had opted for a late lunch at a local all day breakfast restaurant and on the way in he picked up the newspaper.  As we sat in the booth, he pulled the paper out and asked me to give him a minute to glance at the headlines.  The International Money Fund had a new leader.  News.  I didn't want news.  I grabbed The Arts and Travel sections to find something a little lighter and more interesting.  

There we sat til our meals came, both of us with our newspaper sections opened and heads bowed in deep thought.  It was then that I had a flashback.  Mom's father, Grampa Gillis, always read at the table.  Mom had once told me that when she was little, she and both her parents read in silence at the dinner table.  Meals were never like that when I was growing up.  We had big family dinners on Sundays, with our meals in the dining room instead of at the kitchen table, usually with candlelight and soft music and loads of conversation.

Grampa Gillis came to live with us when I was a little older.  I don't have specific memories of him reading when we were all at the table, but he would often have meals alone with the newspaper spread out all over the table while he took it all in.  Although he was ill and wouldn't leave the house, he would tear ads out of the paper.  The next person to sit down to read the paper would open it to peer through the hole where the ad had once been, forever missing the end of the article that had once been on the page before or after the advertisement. 

I smiled at the memories of life so long ago and I glanced up at Jason, still enthralled with the Money Fund.  This is our life now and it seems so comfortable.  So long as reading at the table doesn't become a habit.  :-)

email:  karenk{at}

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life | Halifax, NS

Jason and I ventured downtown early Friday evening to catch the start of the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life.  I wanted to be there for the start of the event and grab some photos.

The relay is held in communities across the country.  Teams of 10 - 15 participants raise funds, camp on the grounds and spend 12 hours walking, running, or wheeling around the track.  The track is surrounded by luminaries in memory of loved ones who have died of cancer, or in honour of loved ones who have survived a battle with the disease.

The first lap of the relay is for the cancer survivors.  All dressed in yellow t-shirts, they walk the track to a round of applause.  It's so incredibly moving to witness these people, so triumphant in what they have overcome, and to see the diversity in the people affected.  This terrible disease affects us all - who doesn't know someone who has battled it at some point in their lives?

Next Friday, Middleton, Nova Scotia, will be hosting their Relay for Life.  My sister is participating in the relay and we'll head to the Valley to cheer her on.  Mom, Dad, my brother-in-law Gary, and I will all be walking the Survivors' Lap.  I got emotional watching the Halifax Survivors' Lap, I'm sure I'll be emotional walking it the day after I finish treatment.

Check out the facebook page for more photos of the Halifax event.