Friday, July 8, 2011

Sometimes Life Gives You Lemons... | Halifax, NS

... and it sucks.

email:  karenk{at}

There Is No Such Thing As A Selfless Act | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Survivor

They say there is no such thing as a selfless act.  I don't know who "they" are exactly, but that's what they said.  I believe it's true.  Doing things for another person makes you feel good, eases your conscious, makes you look good to others.  It may not be your true intention, but in the end it's about you.

I had a recent selfless act that turned out to be not so selfless.

During my radiation treatments, I was at the hospital every day for 16 days.  During my visits to the hospital, I had daily encounters with someone who was not in the health care profession - not a doctor, not a therapist, not anyone related to my treatment.  Just a kind soul at the hospital.  

Jason and I saw this gentleman nearly every day.  Each and every day he greeted us with a big hello and asked us how we were.  We had a quick little chat and we were on our way.  He talked about the weather, the previous night's hockey game, or how our day was going.

And then there were the jokes.  Not the funny kind.  The kind you groan at.  The kind you tell your kids because you know they will think they're funny.  But he told them like they were golden.  And we'd groan and chuckle.  And be on our way.

This guy didn't have to be friendly.  He didn't have to stop and have a chat with us.  I'm sure he did it with everyone to pass his day, but I began to look forward to it as part of my treatments.

I wanted to thank him for the light he gave us each day.  On my last day of treatment, Jason and I went to find him.  He wasn't at his post.  Uh oh.  Off we went looking for him.  When we found him, he was with care workers.  Once they parted, I hollered to him.  He turned, looked at me and kept walking.  "No, no, it's you I'm looking for."  He assumed I was yelling to the others, the care workers.

I told him it was the last day of my treatments, how I'd seen him every day for two weeks, and how much I enjoyed our quick chats and his jokes that made me groan.  I told him that I knew he didn't have to have time for everyone he saw, but I was glad he did.  He made a difference in my treatments, and I wanted him to know.

We gave him a a small giftcard thanking him for the chuckles.  Nothing much, but we were sincere.  His reaction was priceless.  He was surprised and thankful, told us we made his day, and gave me two giant hugs.  And right then and there, I realized my act was not selfless - his reaction in turn made Jason and me grateful.  Grateful for this man, grateful we had taken the few moments to recognize him.  Our hearts were filled because we had made a difference in his day.  It's something I hold dear and hope I never forget.

I don't tell this story for me or for my friend at the hospital, but instead I hope you will remember the people who make your life a blessing.  Tell them, let them know they made a difference, otherwise they may never know.


email:  karenk{at}

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just like riding a bike... | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Survivor

I stared at the screen.  The words and numbers stared back.  Everything looked so familiar, yet so foreign at the same time.  For four years I worked on this screen, my fingers nimbly hitting the keys, knowing which to hit without even needing to think about it.

F3.  F3.  Now what?  I stared some more.  One.  Nope, that's not it.  Two?  I don't know.  What was once second nature is now a foreign concept.  I'm stuck with nowhere to go.  I chuckled to my deskmates Lesley, Kathleen, and Linda.  "I don't have a clue," I laughed.

I've been away from my day job for six months or so while I was going through my cancer treatments.  I am oh so very lucky to have a job that will allow me the time needed to heal.  So very lucky.  Now, as I head back to work, I'm easing my way back in.  Slow and steady, I'm trying to pick up where I left off.  I thought it would be like riding a bike - you just know how to do it.  

Unfortunately, I don't know how to ride a bike.   Wait, yes I do - remember when you were a kid?  Bikes with banana seats?  Man, those were the best!  I think mine was pink, with tassels hanging from the big wide handles and I can remember riding it up and down Sunfield Rd, big as day, with my Barbie and Ken dolls in the weaved basket on the front.  I loved it.

But this wasn't any pink banana seat bike.  No sirree, this was a speed bike with gears and stuff and I was stuck.

The girls laughed with me.  They let me sweat it out a bit.  "Come on, give me a hint," I pleaded.  Finally, Lesley piped up.  Five and five.  Ah ha!  That's it!  My bike with gears vanished and here I was with my pink banana seat bike.  Just like that, I knew exactly what to do, my hands fluttered away at the keyboard and hit all the right spots, just like they did six months ago...

email:  karenk{at}