Saturday, January 7, 2012

Isn't Cancer Supposed to Be Life-Changing? | Halifax, NS, Breast Cancer Survivor

At least, isn't that what you hear?  People have cancer, they survive, and they discover they weren't living their life's dream, that they're only human and the end could come at any time, that they need to kick things up a notch.  And then they do.  They kick it up, they live their dream, they change things and make it better.

I sit here, more than a year after being diagnosed.  Living the exact same life I had before diagnosis, wondering where my change is.  I know that I've come through this incredible thing, that I've beat this cancer, but ohmyGod I need to be living my dream!  It's in my head every day.  And I know my cancer journey is not over... I need to be checked regularly, the breast cancer could come back, a new cancer could come, I could be hit by a bus; at any time, I could be facing my immortality once again.  So where is my change??  Why am I living the same life I was living before cancer?  I want excitement.  I want to inspire people and share my story.  I want to change someone else's life.  I want to live the dream!

But then I realized... my life has changed.

Before I found the lump, Jason and I were just starting to fall in love.  When tragedy strikes, it brings people together.  We would most certainly have created a bond regardless, but cancer cemented it in record time.

I feel more closely connected to my family and friends.  My blog and facebook updates were cathartic for me during treatments.  I needed to share my story with my peeps.  And they read, they commented, they lifted me up.  A year later and I'm still sharing, they're still commenting, and still lifting me up.  I feel more connected to the people around me, me sharing with them and them sharing with me.  Surrounding yourself with good people is important and I feel like I've hit the lottery with that one.

Have I changed someone else's life?  I doubt it, not yet.  But I aim to do that, to keep plugging away at what I'm doing, to make someone else's cancer struggle just a little easier, to make someone else's life struggle just a little lighter.  Not knowing if I've had an impact on anyone else just inspires me to keep at it, maybe it will be years down the road, or maybe, just maybe, it's small changes for lots of people.  Who knows how any one of us impacts another?

I don't feel like I'm "living the dream" just yet, but I know I am happy.  Deliriously, joyously happy.  That is my change.  The dream, the excitement, they will come, but the happiness?  That is the win.

email:  karenk{at}

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Grandparents Were Mortified

If you know me, you know I love french fries.  Fries with ketchup, with mayo, with vinegar, with fish, with a burger, with a good steak.

I love McDonald's french fries, I love Burger King french fries only when they are covered in cheese curds and gravy, I won't order Jack Astor's fries, and I looooove Montana's sweet potato fries.

You get my point, right?

My obsession started early in life, but there was an incident...

We were living overseas, I would have been about four years old.  Look how cute I am, I would never cause a problem...

Mom's parents came over for a visit.  I loved having them there.  I heard years later that Nanny was enthralled to hear all the German children jabbering away outside our apartment only to discover that I was out there jabbering away in German with them.  She had no idea I had picked up the language so quickly.

While they were visiting, we took a trip to visit some clients of my grandfather's.  Grampa was a laywer and this was a pretty big client - he was a doctor who owned a hospital.  Owned it.  We stayed with the doctor and his family, swimming in their indoor pool, and dining outdoors overlooking their mountain.  It was all so fancy and I'm sure we were told to be on our best behavior.

The doctor took us all in to his hospital for a tour.  The dining room was closed, but he insisted we stay for lunch.  I remember a fancy room with linen tablecloths.  This was a dining room, not a cafeteria, for sure.  The orders are placed... til it's my turn.  I want pommes frites (french fries).  "But Karen, honey, they don't have pommes frites here, let's find something else."

"No.  I want pommes frites!"  And with that, I flung myself across my seat and repeated it.  "I want pommes frites!  I want pommes frites!"

The kind doctor discreetly waved over one of his runners and requested he drive into town and fetch the adorable child some pommes frites.  I'm quite certain he would not have used the word adorable, though.

I'm also quite certain that in this moment my grandparents were mortified.  I'm sure they'd be thrilled to know that was the only time I caused a scene at dinner...

email:  karenk{at}