If anyone had suggested, even two years ago, that one day I would stand on a stage talking to 500 women in a cat onesie about my cancer journey, I would have suggested they seek therapy! Yet, on January 18, 2019 that’s exactly what I did. I had the great privilege of guest speaking at the Our Sisters in Pink Fundraiser benefitting the Cancer Assistance Services of Halton Hills (CAShh) and Princess Margaret Foundation. Did I mention it was women’s pyjama party?
My family and I had only moved to Georgetown (a part of Halton Hills), just over a year before I got sick. It was a scary thing to be in a new-ish town with no established social ties, no family close by and very new professional relationships. I’ll admit there was a short period of loneliness and feelings of isolation but before long, I found CAShh. Not only did they help me recover some of the cost related to my treatment but they also connected me with a housecleaning service, Sparkle Your Space, who helped take care of my home for the following six months at no cost to me. This was such a huge weight off my shoulders as there were days I couldn’t even feed myself, let alone take care of my house and kids. CAShh and Sparkle Your Space allowed me to focus on what was most important at that time, my recovery and my family.
Then there was my community, as mentioned, we didn’t really know anyone in our neighborhood before falling sick and if you’ve read my most recent article, How Complacency Almost Cost Me My Life, you will know about the unacceptable interactions I had had with professionals up to this point. Being home alone all day, during the summer with small children was exhausting…some days to the point of tears. It wasn’t long into the summer before I started meeting some of our neighbors. Fortunately, one of them, Vicky, was home on maternity leave so we had an opportunity to meet and spend some time together. I’d bet she wouldn’t think much of it but the little bit of time we spent together, our kids playing, and just having an adult to talk to once in a while may have been the difference between sanity and starting to talk to plants. Another of my neighbors, Candice, a stay at home Mom. The story of how we met is well suited for a Friday night over wine – it is a goodie though. Many times through the summer she checked up on me to see how I was doing. On days she knew I was struggling, she offered to take Victoria for an hour here or there so I could rest, go to appointments, etc. Victoria was a huge fan of these impromptu trips across the street because Candice has three awesome kids, all of whom Victoria has come to love.
My point is, if I was going to get sick anywhere, I’m really glad it was in Georgetown because in such a short span of time, I feel like my community surrounded me with love and support. Having previously lived in a city where people mostly remain anonymous, I feel it would have been an incredibly different experience. I am surrounded by the most amazing neighbors (please don’t move!), friends – new and old, medical professionals, community supports, I could have asked for. And for this reason, having had the opportunity to speak for them, for the very people who helped me through such a horrific year, was an honor.
Here is the talk (in a cat onesie) and a few photos with some of my amazing supporters who came out for the event.
It seems when life throws lemons at you, you’ve just got to get a onesie and show it whose boss.
Until next time, take good care!