Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Living in denial no way to live

Regardless of how they cope, all cancer survivors need hope

  • Print

I had never seen Ida Albo's eyes well with tears.

Couldn't even have imagined it, given everything she's so stoically endured. What made it all the more startling was this was supposed to be an upbeat interview about the upcoming 22nd annual Guardian Angel Benefit for Women's Cancer that Ida is chairing for a second year and actress and comedian and Cancer Schmancer Movement founder Fran Drescher is headlining. An event with $90,000 worth of donated Rainbow and live auction items and prizes that are listed, along with ticket information, on the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation website.

Yet, there we were having coffee, and talking about "Manitoba's Largest Tea Party," as the Guardian Angel Benefit is also known. And Ida, one of the toughest people I've ever known, was having the kind of emotional moment she never shares in public. At the time, the two of us were seated at the Palm Room table that's always reserved for Ida and her husband Rick Bel, the co-managing partners of the Fort Garry Hotel.

I was taking notes.

Notes about the painting by local Group of Seven artist Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald that was so generously donated for the live auction and the Wanda Koop piece the artist herself gave for the cause. But I only made a mental note of Ida's tears and what brought on the uncharacteristically unguarded moment. At the time she was talking not about her own battle with recurring breast cancer, but how cancer had taken her mother and her uncle and others, unmentioned, she and I knew.

"I think you're very lucky if you don't know anyone," Ida said.

I don't know how Ida gets through everything she's been through. Other than lots of yoga, walking, working and putting on a brave, smiling face. What I do know is her tears tell me she doesn't get through it the same way I do.

In denial.

It's been a year this month since I was diagnosed with stage 2B colon cancer. And it's been much less than a year since doctors discovered my Free Press columnist colleague Lindor Reynolds has brain cancer.

People are constantly asking me how Lindor is doing. I struggle with how to respond, in part because that's for her to say, which she does regularly, in her own way. One of the ways Lindor appears to get through it is by blogging about how she's getting through it. The blog name -- Good Days and Great Days -- is borrowed from the mantra our late colleague Jon Thordarson adopted when he was trying to get through cancer.

As for me, I get through what I've been through by doing a little yoga, not enough walking, working and, of course, by believing I will be one of the nine out of 10 who survives my stage and type of cancer.

Denial.

But as the first anniversary of my diagnosis approaches I am beginning to realize living life as if nothing has changed -- as if I can carry on as I always have, not caring properly for myself -- will lead me to a quick dead end. Which is why I'm feeling guilty about grabbing three irresistible Timbits that were waiting at the newsroom front desk when I walked in Friday afternoon. OK, it wasn't three, it was six, but don't tell my wife.

Yeah, even feeble attempts at humour help. As do other mind-numbing vices that don't need to be listed here. Which reminds me ...

I can't name all of the people, organizations, business and volunteers who have contributed to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation's high-tea style event on Sunday, Oct. 27 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Most of the names will be in your program, I suspect. Including mine.

Not long after my surgery, Ida called and asked if I would be one of the nearly two-dozen cancer survivors -- men and woman -- who volunteer as models for the Guardian Angel event's fashion show.

I said yes, because it was Ida asking. So I will be there wearing a Hanford Drewitt suit and a Freed & Freed overcoat and walking down that runway.

Still in denial.

Still trying not to believe I am a cancer survivor. That I'm really what I should have been all along. A male model.

As I was saying, humour helps.

And, while Lindor won't be there, I have no doubt she will be on that runway next year with another group of cancer survivors. Because although every cancer survivor doesn't use denial to cope, there's one thing we all reach for.

Hope.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 12, 2013 B1

History

Updated on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM CDT: Fix spelling of Rick Bel.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Drew Willy on his team's win over Alouettes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Jia Ping Lu practices tai chi in Assiniboine Park at the duck pond Thursday morning under the eye of a Canada goose  - See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge Day 13- May 17, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new school-zone speed limit?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google