Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blink of an eye

Life can change in the blink of an eye. I'm very, very familiar with that phenomenon because of my cancer diagnosis. On that fateful day in April 2009, my life changed dramatically and will never be the same again.

My husband, Michael's life was turned upside down this week. While it's not as drastic and dramatic as cancer, his situation is far more serious than he or I originally thought.

Last weekend, he decided to hop on the treadmill and do a long overdue workout. He ran, did some situps and worked out with weights. Afterwards, he complained his back hurt a bit. Then on Saturday, we shopped and bought a recliner loveseat. Michael, Noah and I managed to get the heavy piece of furniture into our house and up the stairs to our living room. That night, he complained his back hurt a little more.

We soaked in the hot tub, I gave him a massage and he took some Tylenol to try to get this little back problem under control. As the week progressed, he complained the pain was getting worse. On Thursday, he actually had to leave work and saw the doctor.

That afternoon, he discovered his little back problem was actually a compressed L5 disk. Apparently, that area controls the rib cage, as well as bladder and penile functions. His doctor warned him if he damaged it further, he could lose bowel control, and if that heppened, to get to the emergency room right away. Yikes! And if he didn't take it easy, damage could be permanent. Double yikes!

So my dear husband is now off work for one to six weeks, has a prescription for anti-inflammatories, needs physiotherapy and has to rest his back. Just as I'm going back to work, he's off for a while. (His physiotherapist said the time will probably be closer to six weeks than one, which is probably best.)

While he didn't feel a sudden twinge or pain, the workout and couch carrying are the only things he did differently before the problems started.

You know what The Rolling Stones would say: "What a drag it is getting old." While the body overreacting to everything sucks, I'd rather get old than the alternative.

Here's hoping Michael's pain subsides and his back heals quickly. We've got living to do.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just life

On Friday, I got an email from a dear friend, asking if I was okay. She noticed I hadn't blogged since Tuesday, which is a long time for me, and therefore needed to check on my status. I was touched.

I've gotten busy over the last couple of weeks, even though I'm not even working half a week yet. Yikes! Next week, I work four mornings and on my day off, I head to Hamilton for a check up with Dr. H.

Life is busy, especially with children and their appointments, homework and activities. Yet, I'm thankful for this type of chaos because it means I'm living a normal life. While I haven't got quite gotten into the swing of everything yet, it'll come, with time.

Tonight, I'm going out with a bunch of friends. We're celebrating the winter babies in our group, of which I'm one. I think a little drinking and dancing are in order because it's good to have birthdays to celebrate.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Renewed love affair

I've recently rediscovered the joy of reading magazines. These portable, glossy-paged, disposable booklets are treasure troves of information and ideas.

I read a lot of books. I love a good fictional story, especially ones involving mysteries, crimes, police and forensic pathology. The novels I choose need to have strong characters and compelling storylines. Yes, they can be dark, but for some reason, I'm drawn to them. My favourite authors include: Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, John Sandford, James Patterson, Elizabeth Lowell and Tess Gerittsen. I also like Janet Evanovich, but her books are more humerous and unrealistic than gruesome.

I got drawn back into the world of magazines because of the hot tub. I wanted to relax in its soothing, warm waters and read at the same time. The extreme cold of our Canadian winters produces a lot of steam over the water surface, which would damage my books (or those of the library). So I grabbed one of the many unread Chatelaine or More magazines, which are neatly piled in different areas of my house, knowing I could simply recycle their soggy pages.

I think Chatelaine changed its format during my publication-reading hiatus, so now I find the magazine's articles, recipes, fashion ideas, exercise routines and home-decorating tips relevant and compelling.

For example, the magazine features a style spread each month, with age-based recommendations on how to wear the latest trends. Usually I don't go for the latest fashion, finding them unrealistic to real life. But I actually like the clothes chosen for these spreads. Mind you, I usually like the clothes, shoes and jewelry featured for those in their 30s the most, so maybe I'm mentally younger than my cronological age. The magazine even lists the Canadian store where readers can find the clothes featured and their retail price.

Chatelaine publishes longer feature articles and lots of short tidbits of information, so the readers can choose according to their current attention span. I love them all! Did you know asparagus will help detoxify your liver after a overindulgent night of celebrating? Me neither! I also didn't know 10 minutes of friendly conversation can give my brain a quick boost and make me a better problem solver? Or that walnuts are a stress reliever. Thank you Chatelaine.

The January 2011 issue also featured a breakdown on some of the most popular diets, just in time for the popular new year's resolution to shed a few pounds. It also included a checklist on ways to change your life in 30 days. Some readers may follow the list of 30 wellness suggestions from beginning to end, while others may pick a few to better themselves and their lives. The list included:

- Aim for 80 per cent of today's food intake to be fresh, real and unprocessed.
- Go on a (laughter) date.
- Reach out to someone important in your life. It can have a powerful effect on both you and your valued friend.
- Take at least three breathing breaks
- Indulge in chocolate and red wine (powerful antioxidants) - This is my favourite!

The February 2011 issue taught me how to cook and enjoy dark leafy greens. While I knew these super veggies packed a lot of immune-boosting nutrients and were touted to possibly help reduce the risk of some cancers, I didn't know how to incorporate them into my kitchen routine. Thanks to the article, I now know the nutrient breakdown, storing instructions and ways to cook arugula, spinach, kale, collard greens and swiss chard. While I love spinach, I can now expand my palate to incorporate some of these other leafy powerhouses.

I find myself saying "Hunh," "What a great idea!" and "I'd like to try that" during my perusing of every issue. Even when I don't consciously incorporate the magazine's suggestions into my life, its articles expand my knowledge base and give me food for thought. In addition, it provides great food ideas with wonderful recipes, complete with full-colour, glossy photos of the final product. Mmmmm.

So, while I'll continue to enjoy my novels, my love of my magazines has been renewed, especially during those leisurely soaks in the hot tub. Now I can lower my stress levels and increase my I.Q. at the same time. What a great combination!


Friday, February 18, 2011


Over the past couple of weeks, the focus has shifted from my abdomen to my breasts. As a BRCA-1 gene mutation carrier, I have an extremely high risk of developing breast cancer. Even though my hysterectomy and oopherectomy reduced my risk by half, it's unacceptable at at almost 50 per cent. As a result, I undergo careful screening once a year.

Last week, I made my way to St. Joseph's Health Care to be scanned and squished during my MIR and mammogram. Luckily, I had the foresight to take two Tylenol in advance of the MRI and therefore the act of resting my entire weight on my breastbone for at least 20 minutes didn't hurt quite as much. I used my imagination to ferry myself somewhere else during the process and it didn't seem to take very long (and it kept my mind off the fact my body was slid head first into a slim, claustrophobic tube).

My main irritation was a few itches. Once I wasn't allowed to move, a particular area would demand some scratching attention. Luckily, if I ignored it, the sensation went away. But it was annoying nonetheless.

Yesterday, I visited the nurse practitioner to learn my test results. My breasts are great. No lumps, bumps or pesky signs of cancer. Whew!

In April, I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon to discuss a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. (This date scheduled after my breast check in 2010 and it's taken over a year to get the appointment.) At this meeting, we'll discuss my surgery options. When I choose on particular procedure, I'll then have the opportunity to talk to other women who've had the exact same surgery.

To be honest, thoughts of my breasts have been on the backburner. I was too busy dealing with ovarian cancer to think about the possiblity of getting another form of the disease. But the meeting yesterday got me thinking once again about going under the knife again.

I have to confess, I'm a bit conflicted. If the Olaparib is doing its job and fixing the broken part of the gene mutation, it should prevent the development of breast cancer too. Should I rely on the Olaparib? Can I take that risk with an experimental drug? Can I take a wait and see approach or do I need to take action as soon as possible? These questions and ideas are swirling about in my mind.

I don't feel particularly connected to my breasts, but I had a twinge of sadness for them yesterday when looking at photos of women who've undergone the surgery. There's the risk of them being slightly lopsided and the nipple would be gone (and a tattoo version put on later). I guess the upside is they'd be perkier.

I'm reluctant to experience more pain and recovery, especially since I don't feel I have my full strength back from all the chemo treatments this past summer, but I certainly don't want to battle breast cancer too. The thought makes me feel very, very tired.

I guess I'll examine my options and make some hard decisions after I see the plastic surgeon in April. I suspect this process won't move quickly anyway, so I'll have lots of time to adjust to whatever my future may hold.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Interesting research

We live in an amazing time. Medical researchers are working hard every day to discover the causes of and develop treatments for deadly diseases.

Of course, I'm especially interested in the work being done for ovarian cancer. In fact, as a participant in the Olaparib clinical trial, you could say I'm dangling over the cutting edge, hoping I don't fall off. It's a semi-scary, yet exciting place to be. I truly believe Olaparib, and other breakthrough research, will decrease the number of deaths associated with this silent stalker. Unfortunately, the fatality rate of this form of cancer is terribly high with 2,600 women diagnosed and 1,750 dying from this disease in Canada every year. This has to stop.

Some of the breakthrough discoveries come from amazing places. The February 2011 issue of Reader's Digest briefly explained two recent discoveries in the ovarian cancer field:

The shrew
This medical breakthrough story involved a shrew. Since I didn't know exactly what a shrew was, I looked it up this morning. I knew Shakespeare's used the term in his play, The Taming of the Shrew, as a reference to a nasty-tempered woman.

According to Wikipedia, a shew is a small mammal that belongs to the family of small insectivores (eats insects). There are approximately 250 species worldwide, 16 in Canada. Shrews are small (35-180 mm long) and have short legs, a well-developed tail, a long, pointed snout, small eyes and ears. The short-tailed shrew's venom is poisonous, and the American short-tailed shrew's glands have enough to kill 200 mice by intravenous injection.

Researchers have discovered one component of this venom may help treat high blood pressure, while another compound may be useful to treat neuromuscular conditions and migraines.

Jack Stewart, a biochemist at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick discovered small amounts of the protein soricidin in the venom kills ovarian-cancer cells while leaving normal tissue alone. While the conventional chemotherapy treatment kills all rapidly-dividing cells, this type of treatment isolates and treats only the cancer cells. It's very exciting!

In June 2010, Canada's National Research Council invested over $500,000 (which doesn't sound like enough to me) in Soricimed Biopharma Inc., the company Stewart helped start. Phase I trials of soricidin ovarian-cancer therapy begin in 2011. This could be one of the breakthroughs we need to more efficiently battle this horrible affliction.

Out with the fallopian tubes
Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency recently discovered ovarian cancer deaths could be reduced by as much as 30 per cent. Dr. Sarah Finlayson, a gynecological oncologist with the agency's Ovarian Cancer Research Program found the deadliest form of ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes, not the ovaries.

As a result, the BC Cancer Agency is calling for a change in surgical practices so fallopian tubes are removed along with the uterus during hysterectomies and when performing tubal ligation, regardless of the patient's age. For younger patients, the current practice is to remove only the uterus during a hysterectomy and to clip or burn the fallopian tubes to achieve permanent contraception.

If the fallopian tubes aren't present to create this deadliest form of ovarian cancer, then the number of women who succumb to the disease could significantly decrease. No one needs to go through this and prevention is best.

I'm extremely grateful to all those who work hard to find a better way to prevent, detect and treat ovarian cancer. I'm encouraged by the results of new and innovative medical research. It feels as though they're on the brink of something new, different and exciting. This research may provide more and different options for women battling this insidious disease - and most importantly prolong life.

It gives me hope ,and that's an important component of this fight.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The buzz of the alarm clock

I'm slowly getting the hang of this working thing. Three days a week, I get up to the buzz of the alarm clock instead of my own circadian rhythm and bustle about my house getting lunches packed, my kids up and myself showered. Gone are the days of yoga pants and a sweatshirt. I have think about what I'm going to wear and dig out my professional attire.(As a result, I've learned I don't have enough pairs of black dress socks. But that's another issue altogether.)

My first full work week, I wanted to collapse in exhaustion. Last week, I did well, managing to work, take the bus home and do a few chores around the house. Of course, the hours in my work day bump up by one this week (three days, four hours a day) and the kids have activities and appointments three of the five days.

In addition, I'm trying to exercise at least three days a week. Expending energy exercising will make me stronger and create more energy. But it's still tough some days to convince myself to move my body. Last week, I had to hop on the treadmill as soon as I got home from work, before I talked myself out of it.

I have permission from my disability co-ordinator to once again secure the services of a personal trainer. I've got T lined up again, but I'm afraid to start scheduling appointments since I know she's going  to be tough in her attempts to kick my butt back in shape. Yikes! I have every confidence I'll know when the time is right.

I'm getting better at listening to my body, and as long as I pay attention I should be okay. For now, I'm taking it one day at a time.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Me and Suzie - 2007

Here's me and Suzie when I met her outside the theatre when she was in We Will Rock You in 2007. I had hair and Suzie was blond!

(She's tall - and beautiful.)

Gush, gush, gush

Sometimes I wish I were more cool. I often wear my emotions on my sleeve, get over-excited and talk without a filter. Afterwards, I'm slightly embarrassed.

But let me start at the beginning. Last night was the Suzie McNeil concert in Collingwood. After driving over three intense hours in drifting snow to get there (in fact, the main highway was closed by the police because of weather conditions, so we deeked over to back roads), we had a extravagant Valentine's Day dinner and then thoroughly enjoyed the concert.

Suzie's voice is amazing, her musicians were extremely talented and the venue was intimate. We were in the second row, so it almost felt as though we were on the stage with Suzie and the boys. They looked like they were having a great time and Suzie was very funny.

But here's where it gets embarrassing again. The small venue was only half full (so I felt bad) and for some strange reason I think I have to make up for the enthusiasm of those missing fans. I woot often, clap vigorously and sing too loud. I don't know why I think I'm supposed to be the super fan. I guess I feel I need to make one of my favourite artists feel welcome and appreciated (even when the concert isn't in my town).

After the show, Jeff Woods, of Legends of Classic Rock fame generously offered to introduce us to Suzie. (Michael and Jeff went to college together. Jeff's wife used to manage Suzie.) Now I wish my behaviour was smooth and cool, but no such luck. I gushed all over Suzie telling her I've been following her career since before she was on Rockstar: INXS (to the time when she sang with Abbamania), that I got inspiration from the lyrics of some of  her songs during my two battles with ovarian cancer, her voice is amazing and she's the impetus behind some of my blogs. (I'm sure Jeff, who's interviewed lots of famous musicians, inwardly cringed at my behaviour. But he was so kind and personable - even through my exuberance.)

She was so kind and gracious while I quickly rambled my sugar-coated words. I felt pressed for time because I knew a lot of people wanted to meet her. She seemed honoured her songs could be inspiration for a cancer battle. She even asked how she could access my blog (like I really expect her to look me up). She even posed for a photo with me.

I'm sure she gets all kinds of fans, and I hope she understood I was honoured to meet her - for the third time - and was able to see past the excitement and gush. Imagine if I remembered to wear my Suzie McNeil shirt! But I'm not sure it fits anymore since I've packed on the damn cancer pounds. In the past, we've encountered her outside the theatre when she was in the production of We Will Rock You in Toronto and we attended her first CD release party.

I had lots of time during the three-hour drive home to mentally kick myself for my super fan behaviour. (Yes, we drove almost seven hours to see a 90 minute Suzie concert.) I may never be cool, but there's no doubt how I feel. I guess that's just me.

                                          Me and Suzie after the concert last night

A super fan of the "Supergirl" (one of my favourite songs).

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's a beautiful day

It's an unforgetable sunrise
Let it shine
Let it shine through your eyes

It's a beautiful day
Don't you throw it away
Come on
Are you ready
Get ready
Jump in your car and forget who you are
Come on
Are you ready
Get ready
Don't get left behind
Let's go

These lyrics, by Suzie McNeil in her song Let's Go, describe how I feel today. It's a beautiful day - even if it's cold, cloudy and a bit icy - because we're alive to make the most of it.

Suzie's on my mind today because I get to go see her concert tomorrow night in Collingwood. I'm so excited. Michael and I will make a day of the excursion, go out for dinner and then go see Suzie.

I'm trying to be positive, even though I got discouraging news yesterday. One of my fellow ovarian cancer blogging buddies is in bad shape. As a result, I've been fluctuating between despair and prayer for Pateeta, and thankfulness for my blessings. She'd want those who love her to take advantage of every single day and each sunrise. That's why I'm honing in on the positive.

It's a beautiful day, don't throw it away.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Super speller

If you didn't see the written words, could you spell sphere, phobia, phoenix and symphony?

What about triump, phase and morph?

Sphinx? Hieroglyphics?

These were the words my 9-year-old daughter needed to learn for her weekly spelling test last Friday. When I quizzed her, I was amazed at the complexity of some of these words. I, a self-proclaimed spelling and grammar geek, spelt sphinx incorrectly the first time. (In fact, I'm such a grammar geek, I blogged about it last year and today I grabbed my handy dictionary to look up the past tense of spell. I learned you can used both spelled and spelt. Only people like me would enjoy knowing that interesting little tidbit of information.)

This morning, I asked my son, who is in grade eight, to spell some of these words and he didn't get them right. Granted, English, spelling and grammar aren't his strengths (math and science are). While he did well in spelling tests because he memorized the words, he forget them promptly afterwards because they were random words with no correlation to one another.

I'm excited my daughter's grade four teacher is choosing a theme for his spelling words each week, selecting sounds and/or letter combinations to teach kids the composition of words. Last week's words focussed on the ph letter combo that sounds like f.

Spelling correctly matters. I know a whole bunch of kids went through school, encouraged to spell words the way they sounded, regardless if they were spelt right. But I think eventually the world caught up (or will catch up) to them because higher educational institutions and the business world generally care about good spelling. (Of course, then there's good grammar, which keeps people like me employed.)

Many customers also make judgements based on good spelling. I know I sometimes measure the professionalism of a place by the spelling and grammar used in its advertising. I got a pizza flyer in the mail the other day. In every instance, except one, fries was spelled "freis." You could order a panzerotti baked or "freid." I laughed and promptly threw the menu in recycling. Granted, the owner may speak English as a second language and I applaud him or her for small-business ownership. But when spending money on advertising, get someone - a friend, regular customer, another business owner - to proofread the copy.

I'm proud of my daughter because she takes pride in good spelling and grammar. Yes! She's a mini-me because she loves to read books and write stories. But she's a bit more entrepreneurial than I was/am because she's already advertising and promoting sales of a little story she wrote. She's got a great combination of writing skills and business instinct. It's awesome she's learning how to correctly spell the words she wants to use.

A proud mom and grammar geek,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Small, but powerful, trick

As I've mentioned, I've experienced a lot of mental challenges over the past couple of weeks. I've started using a little trick that helps me every time. It sounds simple, but for me, it works.

When I start to get worked up, worried, aggravated or sad, I think about all the things for which I'm grateful. Each time, I usually end up saying thank you for some of the people in my life, my health (yes, I'm happy about it even though I still have cancer lurking inside me) or a good experience I've had. I'll sometimes throw in something small too - the hot tub, a tasty meal, good coffee, etc.

I find that if I focus on the good things in my life, I diminish the power of the bad ones.

Have you thought about all the people, experiences and items for which you're especially grateful lately. You may be surprised how an attitude of gratitude can brighten your day.

Hope there's lots of sunshine in your life today.


Monday, February 7, 2011


I've only officially been back at work for 15 hours and yet, I'm already having work dreams. This is not good.

My eyes may be little red, with puffy bags under them because I woke up several times during the night. My sleep was restless and not rejeuvenating. When I did drift back to sleep, I had dreams about work. I actually remembered a meeting (that I didn't during my wakefulness) in one of these dreams.

I have one minor job on the go and a few meetings, but there's nothing too taxing at work. While the organizational changes are obviously on my mind, I'm coming to terms with those too. Contributing to my problem may be that our family has one vehicle and coordinating the going to and coming home from work requires some ingenuity.

In fact, I'm at work more than an hour before I should be because I got a ride in with Michael. So I'll blog, read my book and try to relax before beginning my official time. I'm sure I'd be in trouble with my disability specialist if she knew I was already here.

I have to admit I'm tired before the day even begins, but I'm sure I'm not alone. I know Michael's sleep was restless too. And then there are all those who attended Superbowl parties yesterday who may be suffering from some after-effects.

So, like everyone else, I'll do the best I can. But luckily, I only work three hours and then I can head home on the bus for a rest before my kids come home from school. The reintegration plan back to work is slow and steady. This morning, I'm especially thankful for that.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Interesting observations

This trip called cancer is pretty wild. I've noticed a few weird things lately that I thought I'd share.

I've returned to my hairy self
Chemotherapy is both a curse and a blessing in the hair department. I hate losing the locks on my head, my eyelashes and my eyebrows. But I love that my leg, armpit hair and bikini line hair disappear. Last year, my legs were smooth as silk for months, which I loved. When my leg hair returned, it was sparse and finer than it used to be, which I considered a bit of a blessing.

This time was different. While I lost my hair and my eyelashes, I always retained a few stray eyebrows, just for fun. And my legs were never entirely hair free. Every once in a while, if I was so inclined, I ran the razor over them. Once the follicles were allowed to produce hair again, I got lots of it. I'm back to my hairy self. (You'd think I was Italian or something.) I have lots of hair everywhere, just like I did pre-cancer.

Maybe this is a good sign. Maybe the spare hair was a sign the cancer wasn't sleeping or dead. Perhaps I should count this as a blessing that my body can be a hair-making machine once more. While it's a blessing in some places, thick hair is a bit of a curse in others. But then again, there are worse things, so I shouldn't complain.

Nary a thought
You know, there are days when I don't even think about my cancer. I never thought I'd get to this place. I also don't worry about a reoccurence as much as I did during my last remission. Have I given it to God and said, "It's in Your hands?" Am I more confident it won't return? Am I just sick and tired of worrying all the time? Who knows.

I hear the word cancer almost every day in one context or another, but it doesn't carry the same trauma it once did. Of course, that would probably change if I had a reoccurence (which I pray to God I don't) and had to go through treatment again.

The loss
I've lost two friends to cancer in the past few weeks. While they weren't close friends, I think about their passing quite a bit. I have another blogger friend who is going through some tough cancer-related shit right now. I worry about her. I'm sure these things contributed to my mini-mental episode yesterday.

Merci, gracias, thanks
On that note, I want to say thank you for all those who responded with resounding support yesterday. It means a lot to me. I am MUCH better today. I'm more optimistic and my cheerful attitude is back. The sun is shining and it's the weekend.

TGIF everyone. I hope you have a fabulous weekend.


Thursday, February 3, 2011


My disability specialist is one smart lady. With my input, she created a plan to reintegrate me back into work. Last year, when I heard the plan, I scoffed at the idea of returning to work three hours a day, three days a week. I was surprised at how tired I felt. But I quickly got stronger and my return to work went smoothly.

A week ago, when I talked to my disability specialist about this year's plan, which includes two weeks of three hours a day, three days a week, I felt a bit foolish. Even though my hemoglobin is still low and the treatments over the past six months have been harder on me, I felt a little guilty about starting out so slowly.

I underestimated how draining it would be.

I expected to feel physically tired, but I didn't understand how mentally exhausting my return would be, which adds to the physical component, which makes me mentally irrational. It's a vicious cycle. The work I'm returning to is very different and I'm still adjusting to all the structural changes taking place. Yet, because I've been isolated from all the flux and speculation while at home, I feel bombarded and unprepared to deal with all the conflicting and irrational emotions swirling around in my head and heart.

In addition, I feel out of the social loop. I've been at home for months, recovering. With my introverted nature, I've fallen into a semi-isolationistic state. My tiredness continues to contribute to this attitude. I couldn't even have a decent conversation with a good friend at work yesterday because it was the end of my three hours and I was so tired I couldn't even concentrate. As a result, I'm afraid I gave off the air I wasn't interested, which wasn't my intention.

So I feel like I'm living in a bit of a surreal bubble - and I hate it. I apologize to all those with whom I've been out of touch. I will try to get better as I get stronger.

I feel irrational, sad, frustrated and alone. I don't understand me. I even had a stupid disagreement with Michael last night. I regret not having a vacation with him to reconnect before I returned to work.

Yup, I've boarded the crazy train again. I hope the ride is a short one.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

True love - Part II

Ironically, after I wrote my blog this morning, I read an article in More entitled The Good Long Marriage. The article says, it takes a little luck, a lot of stamina, and, of course, love to make a union last.

The author, Judith Timson, wrote about the cycles of marriage: "actual trackable cycles of love, the indifference; of rage, then acceptance; of sweet complicity, then low-level take-for-grantedness. I learned you just ride them out, knowing they will end."

She also talked about having "to strain through the years to keep seeing your mate. Aparthy is the real marital stalker, the real marital killer." and how the sheer demands of raising children together "could cause anyone to doubt whether her marriage was even worth it, let alone whether it could survive."

Despite these marital, the article quotes a statistic from the Vanier Institute of Family, which says only 40 per cent of marriages in Canada today end in divorce. That means 60 per cent of married couples are staying together.

During the course of a marriage, children grow and people learn to communicate, including knowing when to stay silent, Timson says. "In short, you face crises of every imaginable stripe - finances, illness, death of loved ones - and if your mate has held your hand firmly throughout, you're reassured and thankful."

As I pondered in a previous blog, Timson doubts whether eHarmony would have matched her and her husband. I guess a computer can't necessarily predict true love.

With time, a long marriage can provide the opportunity for a second marriage, with the same man. ``If you are lucky, you get to remarry your mate down the road, falling in love all over again. This is what midlife marriage can feel like," Timson says.

I'm not sure if 15+ years qualifies as mid-life marriage, but I understand and look forward to continuing with the cycles, stages, nuances and opportunities marriage provides.


P.S. Okay, I'm done being mushy now. But that's just the way I felt today.

True love

"There was a part of me at the beginning of our marriage that thought, I'm cool alone. I love him but I'm strong enough to handle life without him. But now he is the person I count on to live and walk through life with. It's a dependency that is there and large and real and profound."

- Kyra Sedgwick, married 22 years to fellow actor, Kevin Bacon

This quote resonated with me because it explains how I feel about Michael. When I met him, I was a strong, independent, single woman who was perfectly capable of doing many things for myself. I didn't need a man to do tasks for me. I didn't date simply to have a guy in my life. If he wasn't the right man, I wasn't going to waste my time (or his). I was better off by myself.

As a result, I took an auto mechanics class and fixed several things on my first car, a 1984 VW Rabbit diesel. I assembled and took apart my waterbed several times by myself. I hooked up the electronics and moved all the furniture. I was woman, hear me roar.

I did want the companionship, friendship and love a relationship would bring, but I was tired of all the jerks I'd met. So in the spring of 1993, I decided to focus on myself and my friends, and have a good time. Within weeks, Michael came into my life - and we've been inseparable ever since. I'd heard, "Stop looking and love will find you." When I did just that, the old addage came true.

Shortly after we started dating, he was helping me move. He wielded the drill as we put together my waterbed. I turned to him and said I was perfectly capable of this chore by myself and I was letting him help me. Too funny. Now I let him assemble furniture and configure electronics because he's better at it - and enjoys it more - than I do. I think that's a natural progression in a relationship.

Michael is my soul mate. I can't imagine walking through life without him. Like Kyra, at one time I believed I was strong enough to handle life without him. I'm still strong, but Michael and I are stronger together. We're two pieces that when combined become a formidable strength.

He's given me strength during my battles with cancer, he brings me joy, love and companionship. I depend on him, and he me. We're a great team.

So on this first day of February, I declare my love for and dependence on my husband, Michael. (I know, I'm a bit early for Valentine's Day, but I'm in the right month.) Like Kyra and Kevin, we're working on a marriage for the long haul.