Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 08/16/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
It would be an understatement to say that a year ago, I got a kick in the teeth when I was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Now, I can no longer brush my own teeth.
My new mailing address is Riverview Health Centre, where I have come to die, although you're not supposed to say that here.
When they brought me here, they promised I would never feel pain again, and they have been pretty true to that. When there is pain, there is a kind nurse with a needle and a machine to lift my sore, useless body into a wheelchair.
I can no longer walk independently. I hate the loss of independence, of needing someone to wash me and help with basic bodily functions. When you need someone to wash your face for you, it's a new low. I feel I've ceased to be me, and it's hard not to spend every day crying.
But what it has made me realize is how very much I miss you, the readers.
There have been some celebrations this year. My daughter got married last week, and I was able to attend. After days of practice sitting up in a wheelchair, the staff deemed me ready to go. Another decision was made for me.
But what has the past year meant? Have I had insights available only to those who have the curtain lifted back to reveal some deep meaning? I'm reminded of the observation Randy Pausch made when he wrote The Last Lecture; simply that time is all you've got until you realize you have a finite amount.
My Christian faith has carried me through. It's stronger than it ever was. My church family has been there for me. All around my room are things from them, both from the church I attend now -- Holy Trinity -- and the one I used to attend, St. Vital's St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church.
The thing I struggle to get across is how useless I feel physically... and intellectually.
I suppose I'm not entirely useless. I've been able to find meaning in fundraising. I started a campaign to build a school in Kenya through a program of Free the Children run by Craig and Marc Kielburger. A garden party to raise money pushed the campaign over the top. Enough was raised for three schools.
But truthfully? It was an act of selfishness that allowed me to give back. I say an act of selfishness because I did it for me. I didn't do it for Kenya. Is that insightful? Maybe, but I don't think I'm capable of being insightful right now.
Insight? I wish I hadn't smoked as a teenager, but I don't think I gave myself cancer.
I do know this: Choose your friends carefully. They're the ones who'll be wiping drool off your chin.
Something you should know: People have to laugh at your jokes when you have cancer.
I've discovered how insanely insecure I am, how much affirmation I need.
I have been unable to do any writing. I miss that like crazy, of course. But what it has made me realize is how very much I miss you, the readers.
A year ago, I wrote a column telling you about this diagnosis and that I would be out of touch for a while as I fought the monsters. Please know you have been the greatest gift to me.
You have allowed me into your homes, your lives as I have done this most marvellous of jobs. We have laughed, cried, been angry, and in the end, been a little bit better from our connections. I know I have.
I was thrilled to be offered the chance to write this. It was the best gift Free Press editor Paul Samyn could have given me, other than the chocolate.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 16, 2014 D5
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.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
New design uplifts personal care homes
All they wanted for Christmas
Achieving your big dreams easy as...
Stylistic changes cause for concern
Draft, develop, retain... sound familiar?
All husband wants is glee under the Christmas tree
A mouthful of magnificent
Tools fine, rational mechanic needed
Jets need help fourth-with
Ashton's ambition a divisive force
Tina's great-aunt moved to tears by cards, letters
Last-minute shopper needs thoughtful gifts fast
Year in TV comes to an end with a lengthy list of greatness
Oswald not looking like formidable force
Buff worth his weight in gold
Christmas perfection lives in every child's mind
Christmas concert will make wishes come true
Husband not interested in sex with mom around
Saxophones dominate on recent Canadian albums
Nordik Group's $11-million Thermëa spa opens Jan. 15
Curb your urge to splurge with these healthy tips for the festive season
Make a batch of presents with yummy home baking
'I don't want to die a drunk'
CentreVenture boss got a lot done
The measure of the man
Spinning truth in true-crime drama
It isn't freedom without access to markets
Hole for the holidays
The strange, sad and silly year that was
Fix hole in marriage before someone else crawls through
Many happy returns
Career tips for new mayors... and others
An oasis of sparkling wines
Happy Christmas — war is over