Cancer. We’ll talk about it once and never mention it again.

December 19, 2014

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It’s amazing how long one can stare at the screen. The words and stoicism for this post didn’t come till now and the terror still hasn’t stopped, and, mainly, coming to the decision to publish this at all, AT ALL, has been a long and tortuous route.

Today I read a post from a lovely girl whose blog I enjoy, who had a nasty experience with a customer accusing her of making silly crafts with her children and buying over-priced Christmas trees instead of tending to her shop. Behind the scenes, behind the two lovely post of crafting with her children and buying their Christmas tree, this mother of four young boys, (one of them a newborn), dealt with sick babies, volunteer hours at her son’s school, answering emails, running a business, preparing for her eldest’s birthday party, nursing round the clock, staying up till 2am fulfilling orders, and a million other things not reflected in those two blog posts, and I thought, yeah, that’s it right there, mostly what I show here is the lovely side of my life, and I do that purposefully, because it is also MY refuge from the occasional trauma of my day to day. But there are some things that take us out of our lovely, bucolic romanticism and plonk us squarely on the cold, cement floor of life…on our face…naked and exposed.

One such thing happened mid September.

Remember way back when I checked myself into surgical daycare to have a tumour in a saliva gland removed? Remember how these things are 99.9% benign? Well, this one turned out to be the .1% malignant! And thereby ensued months of terror, reflection, a new relationship with my malfunctioning body, with therapy, with specialists, with the conveyor belt which is the BC Cancer Agency, with my family, with the people I trust.

As soon as I received the diagnosis, I told my children and Robert and my mother. My children understandably panicked with fear for my life, but Robert and my mother stayed level headed. My mother then said something to me. She said, “we have to take it as it comes.”

Later that week, C and I were at the grocery store, and a lovely blond woman said hello to C. They exchanged a few sentences and then she turned to me and said, “Oh, are you out and about? How are you feeling?” with an incredibly concerned voice. I must say that my first initial reaction was to grab C’s hand and back away slowly from this “mad” woman, but then it dawned on me that she was a relative of my son-in-law’s and by virtue of my telling Kers, his family knew. And then I knew I didn’t want to tell anyone. I wanted to control the dissemination of this info. I didn’t want the sympathy, the platitudes, the awkward gestures from people who just didn’t know what to say…how to cope, and mainly, I didn’t want to be seen as different, as “not me”. Does that make sense? I does in my own mind.

But now that I’ve coped, now that I’ve come thru this and out the other end of the conveyor belt, I can talk about this. So I invite you to use my vast bank of experience and knowledge if you need to. Ask me anything. We’ll talk about this once, right here, and then we’ll forget all about it and get back to our lovely lives, but you’re welcome to ask me again, whenever and if ever you need to.

The word “cancer” is a horrible word. I have trouble saying it. Robert suggested that I call it wonky cells…because, after all, that’s all they are, just a bunch of wonky cells…and that’s what we’ll call it. It’s not a battle, it’s not a dragon to be slayed, it’s just a bunch of wonky cells who have no thought, no emotion, no purpose except to replicate. As a matter of fact, they don’t want to kill this organism which is my body, because then they would also die. They just need to be delicately and forcefully removed and persuaded never to come back.

This type of wonky cellness is called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, and it’s exceedingly rare. It makes up 1% of the rarest 5% of all wonky cellnosity. Now don’t go looking it up on Wiki, you’ll only upset yourself. The main thing to remember is that it is highly responsive to radiation therapy, it hides and travels thru nerves, and this tumour had only a 30% breach of its lining, so probably not a lot of cells managed to travel thru the nerves and to my brain.

The several tests, CT scans, MRIs, didn’t show any metastasis or any other clusters in lymph nodes or other glands, so a course of largely preventative radiation therapy was undertaken with daily one minute doses for 37 treatments.

As usual, I found my solace in art. Robert, again being my saviour, strongly suggested I keep one of my art journals throughout the treatment, and at the very last minute, I ran down to my friend Dalyce’s second hand book store, and bought a book. The book I chose I chose for the name, “sense and nonsense”. I liked the small pocket size, I liked the calm blue cover, I liked holding a random book (which I knew nothing about), I liked how it felt, I liked the randomness of it all, the having to take it as it comes. I counted the pages and worked out that gluing every four pages together would give me enough pages to complete my course of treatment plus a couple pages to spare. The book was written by Eric Patrick Nicol; a Canadian writer of some 40 books (none of which I read or knew anything about). I’m ever so grateful to Mr Nicol for his work and for this book. I do believe it saved my sanity, and my knowledge and sharing of it may possibly go a long way towards helping others trying to cope thru the devastating fear of a wonky cell diagnosis.

So, what follows are the pages of my journal. I’ll try to describe the days briefly, but feel free to ask me any questions you like. Feel free to have these images for whatever purpose, but please remember that this original book is the intellectual property of the estate of Mr Nicol…to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude.

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As you probably already know, I’m luckier than most people. Both my parents are/were doctors, all their friends are doctors, and I’m an only child. Than means that every course of treatment, every test, every decision was shopped around a consortium of doctors before it was agreed on.

One of the best things I ever did was join a wellness centre called Inspire Health and upped my yoga, my meditation, my creative visualisation, and researched all supporting natural remedies.

So for anyone who must undertake a course of radiation therapy, let me very strongly advise you to take daily doses of 3000 iu of vitamin D, super critically extracted turmeric, a very good probiotic well ahead of time and all the way thru to boost white blood cell production, and form a relationship with miso soup, which is shown to dissipate radiation toxins out of the body.

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And keep a journal. For you that might look very different from mine. But sitting around in waiting rooms, feeling scared, looking at the devastatingly sick and suffering people around, their grey faces, their panicked but stoic expressions, it’s very helpful to shut the world out and concentrate on your journal.

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Working thru the days in my book I found words which said something about the way I was feeling each day. I circled the words, sketched a drawing which felt right, and outlined everything in a sepia ink pen.

These were simple tasks to do while sitting in waiting rooms.

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I took my supplies with me in a pencil case in my purse, switching out the coloured Faber-Castell markers to suit each day.

Some days were optimistic, some days less so. I drew my feelings around Mr Nicol’s words.

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I think one of the hardest times was seeing children coming in from Children’s Hospital for radiation treatment since Children’s doesn’t have radiation chambers. Another difficult thing was waiting for radiation symptoms to come on and dreading each twinge.

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It took to me the first week before I felt I could open my eyes in that radiation mask and actually watch the machine sweep past me. The mask is tight, locked down to the table one lies on and breathing is somewhat restricted. The feeling of stuckedness, of vulnerability, of claustrophobia are acute and real. Meditating thru the few minutes of one’s confinement is very helpful. I tended to visualise myself walking thru a semipermeable membrane, which allowed my body thru it but not the dark, smoking wonky cells, which fell down to the ground behind me.

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The days leading up to Remembrance Day were difficult. Most of you know my father was the doctor for the BC war vets and he took them to places such as Vimy Ridge and to meet the Queen, and most of you probably know that he died before his “old boys” of a terrible terminal cancer. Actually, the only two episodes of wonky cellness in my family, my father and my aunt, were both discovered too late and terminal within two years.

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The days post R.D. I felt a sadness which was hard to shake. But I went for an acupuncture treatment at the wellness centre and that helped me flip back to a more positive outlook.

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The second week into treatment, as with most people who have radiation in the region of their head, my taste buds started to shut off and die. The first taste which went was salt, then sugar, then, gradually, everything began to taste like a mix of alkaline water, (that sulphuric kind you get at hot springs and certain spas) and flour mixed to different degrees of texture.

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It’s funny, you know. You can blindfold yourself and experience what it’s like to be blind to some degree. You can stuff cotton in your ears and feel a little deaf, but you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to lose your sense of taste because there just is no reference point. No way to test it out before hand.

I can still acutely feel sitting at the sushi bar with Clover and dipping a piece of California roll into some soy sauce. The character of the soy sauce turned to the most horrible bitterness in my mouth. Very unexpected.

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By the 21st on November everything tasted foul and the only thing palatable was my Earl Grey tea with a heaping spoon of super sweet Stevia and another of Manuka honey, miso soup, toast without butter and, for some bizzare reason, tempura prawns.

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Midway point and a private little celebration. I bought myself a few beautiful coffee table books. I was also offered the radiation mask to take home after treatment. My initial reaction was, “not a hope in hell!!!”, but I had a think about it. I didn’t change my mind because taking the mask home would have put the onus on me to dispose of it. The material is not recyclable, it would take too much effort and (by now my rapidly diminishing) strength to cut it up, and it would have to hang around till the spring time till I got to the cabin to burn it safely, (still releasing toxic plastics into the atmosphere). No thank you. I captured the mask on these pages instead. It can stay here too.

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Into the final half of treatment I began to think about how “normal” my new life was feeling. Daily drives across town for radiation, lack of taste, losing weight, avoidance of meals, while still trying to run the household and my business, while keeping my children, my family, my relationship with Robbie a priority, while trying to distract myself with TV or the computer to try to eat revoltingly tasting foods, which often trigger a gag reflex, in an effort to nourish myself. Robert helped again by telling me to focus on foods as necessary medicine.

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I remembered my father and my aunt going thru chemo, barely strength enough to walk, how quickly we adopt a situation to a new normal. Some chronic fatigue hit at about this time. But sleep is restorative, so I happily gave in.

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November came to a close and December took its place and with that a new focus. Christmas lights went up in the hood, trees in windows, carols on the radio…a much happier state of affairs. I also focused on my art more. My precious gift of creativity which saves me time and time again.

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I counted down the treatment days. Nine, then eight more to go. Life seemed a bit more uplifted even with worsening symptoms. I also focused on and counted my blessings when I got too down.

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And poured my feelings into my book. Each day Mr Nicol came thru with brilliant words that felt just right, and on the pages which fell on the book’s illustrations, I created myself little collages.

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All thru this treatment I was under that care of an oncologist, as is expected, and a psychologist. The very rare and not understood nature of this wonky cellness made it difficult for me to relate to any other person. As far as I know, there is one man, who is ten years post treatment and doing exceptionally well, here in BC and 20 more across Canada. It left me feeling very alone and, I must admit to having stupid thoughts like, “why couldn’t I have had breast wonkynossity and be part of a better understood crowd?” How stupid am I? I did slap myself out of that!

The skin on the left side of my neck gradually changed, became frail, wrinkly, red, flaky, but thanks to the heavy doses of turmeric and the miso soup, and, I suppose, thanks to my oily Mediterranean skin, these symptoms were not as bad as some of the people’s going thru similar.

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But with only four treatments left, things were beginning to look more positive, more survivable. Robert arrived, and it isn’t only me having to hold down the fort. He held my hand on the evening of Friday Dec 12th and said, “just think, this is the worst you’ll ever feel. Things will never be this bad again.” Two days to recover over the weekend, and three treatments to go. By now the nerves leading from my jaw to my brain have been so affected that yawning, sneezing, blowing my nose are various degrees of excruciatingly painful. But pain or no pain, how lucky am I to live in this time, in this city, with access to government funded medical help, with a treatment which has been modernised, a treatment, which as early as ten years ago, would have scattered a dangerous 66 grays of radiation over my entire head, neck and chest, which is now confined to and pinpointed to complete accuracy within one computer controlled channel thru the brain. And above all, how lucky am I for my mother, for her medical knowledge and council, for Robert for holding me up day or night, for his positive loving guidance, for my precious Chloe, who never left my side, insisted on accompanying me to every treatment, with the exception of three which she couldn’t manage, joked with and befriended the team of technicians, helped to decorate the radiation ward Christmas tree, and for Jonathan and Kerstin who checked in on me and showed loving concern despite their own busy lives. They have been the bright shining stars in my life for these past months.

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Finally, the last two days, the last day, and my normal was about to be restructured into a newer normal.

And now, the normal is that of recovery, of regeneration, of health, of life, of happiness, of reduced stress, of fulfilling dreams, hopes, of love, of love for my strong, healthy, wonky cell free body, for my children, for Robert, for my mother, for friends, a new normal of living a long and happy life.

We have to take it as it comes.

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Hello from Sunday night
Chloe cuts her hair for Cancer

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75 Comments

  • Reply Pamela Gordon December 19, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Wow! You are an incredible woman and I thank you for sharing this talk on your blog today. Your artwork is amazing and the journal idea is wonderful. What a blessing to be able to get through this with your gift of art. It’s wonderful that you have such a great support system as well. I wish you a wonderful Christmas and continued good health. Blessings. Pamela

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Hi Pamela, thank you so saying such lovely and loving things. I also wish you a wonderful holiday season and much celebrating. Big hugs to you my photography friend. XXX

  • Reply jae December 19, 2014 at 7:16 am

    I have so missed your frequent posts, not dreaming why you were not writing. You are one of the few blogs I read, and share. Wishing you the best, and everytime I see a post now from you in my box I will say a thank you that you are besting the wonkycells. Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season from the southeast US.

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:37 am

      Hi Jae, thank you so much. I’m so glad you’re with me here. I’m sure everything will be just fine now. Biggest hugs to your down there in the warmth. X

  • Reply cecilia December 19, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I ADORE your book. What an exceptional way to get yourself through such a shitty period of wonkiness. Pacing yourself like that. Do you mind if i share this with The Fellowship tomorrow. Now, I know we will not talk of this again .. you have been so brave and so good. But I am so PROUD to be your friend.. I am going to email too.. there is something I need to ask you.. c

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Hi Celi, Sending you big hugs and love. I’m also so PROUD to be your friend. XXXX

  • Reply kathryningrid December 19, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Exquisite artwork and a powerful message. I followed you here from Celi’s kitchensgarden and will come back for many an inspiring visit. Thank you for your openness and your artistry!
    Peace, health and joy to you.
    Kathryn

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:34 am

      Hello Kathryn, my fellow farmy friend. Thank you so much. Big hugs and joy back to you. X

  • Reply Julie (Lilacs & Longhorns) December 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Wow! Your journal is absolutely amazing — it is filled with creativity & power…it is so inspiring. I just don’t have the words. Thank you for sharing your experience and your journey. All the best to you. Namaste!

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:33 am

      Hi Julie, thank you so much. All the best to you too. X

  • Reply Marian December 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

    All of the above dear friend, take care, love and hugs for past present and future mxx

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Thank you so much my dear friend. One of these days I’m going to make it down to London and have tea with you. X

  • Reply dayphoto December 19, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I came over here from Celi’s blog and am so glad I did! Your art work is astoundingly good! Excellent and marvelous and therapeutic I’m sure. This post is completely honest and so open there is tremendous power here.

    I have learned over the many years of blogging that they huge world of blogging friends can pull together and surround us with love and healing. I have seen foster dogs adopted and found kittens adopted, I have seen a whole corn harvest complete because so many people where pulling for us.

    Here to you I am sending you Magic Thoughts, saying prayers and crossing everything that can be crosse for a complete healing for you!

    Hugs and support from a new friend,

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/?s=The+Adventures+of+Fuzzy+and+Boomer&submit=Search
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:29 am

      Hello Linda, fellow fellowship member. Thank you so much for your magic thoughts and prayers. I’m sure that everything will be just fine now. Thank you also for leaving your link because now I can come visit you. Big hugs, X

  • Reply michellepond December 19, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Sending virtual hugs and wishes for the speediest recovery possible. Thank you for sharing your story. I know you are helping many people by doing so.

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:26 am

      Thank you so much Michelle. Sending you big hugs to you too. X

  • Reply forestpoppy December 19, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I have finished reading your post with an overwhelming feeling of what a special, talented and strong person you are. I’m sure that strength has been tested again and again and I’m sure you must have felt at times that it wouldn’t hold up. But thank you so very much indeed for sharing so candidly what you have been going through. I didn’t know your family history but can easily understand how having that medical knowledge so close at hand would have been reassuring and very useful (my parents and many of their friends are vets, and their knowledge and understanding has always shaped any treatment any family member or friend has required). I think I will always use the wonky cell description from now on, it is perfect.
    Your journal is incredibly special and beautiful. I can’t think of a more perfect record.
    Wishing you and your family a most peaceful and restorative Christmas. I will be thinking of you all. Juliexxx

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Hello Julie, my friend. Thank you so much for your kind and loving words. Isn’t it true that, once you come from a medical family, the outlook changes a bit. I guess, even from the point of view of being able to rely on ignorance as a comfort…one knows exactly what one is up against. Anyway, one of these days I’ll get up North and meet you for a lovely cup of tea, and in the meantime, I hope you have the most wonderful of Christmases with your lovely family. X

  • Reply Sharmon Davidson December 19, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Your journal is striking in its depth and beauty, and has obviously been a saving grace for you. I can’t pretend to know how you feel, but please know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers. Happy holidays to you.

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:17 am

      Thank you my new friend. We haven’t done a drawing challenge together for a while, have we? I’ll have to get on to that, but for now I’ll come pop over and see what you’ve been up to. Big hugs. X

  • Reply dawnsrays December 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Life is a grand and impermanent thing, here on this planet and it really is a gift~ one we experience for ourselves and one we give to those around us that we touch in so many unexpected ways.
    May you continue your journey here in the conscious and open-hearted manner you have cultivated so well.
    May you be happy
    May you be healthy
    May you be safe
    May you be at peace.
    Namaste my friend,
    Dawn

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Oh Dawn, your words have touched me more than you know. In our meditation group, C and I recite these kinds of blessings. Thank you so much. Biggest hugs to you sweetie till you can’t breathe! XX

  • Reply debrashewhoseeks December 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

    You’ve been on such a profound and life-changing journey — thank you so much for sharing it with us. Your journal is a wonderful testament to your artistry and perseverance.

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:13 am

      Thank you so much Debra. It has been a profound journey. Now, more than likely, that journal will be put away and a new journal will begin. XX

  • Reply Patricia A. McGoldrick December 19, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Awestruck!

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:11 am

      Big hugs sweetie, thank you. x

  • Reply Joan December 19, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Thank you so much for opening your life, your heart, your journey to us. For detailing your experience and not only telling, but showing us how you have coped. You are indeed blessed to have so many amazing people to love and support you.

    Your journal is an inspiration to me because many years ago art therapy pulled me out of a deep dark place and opened avenues of expression I didn’t know existed. I believe sharing even more detail on how you did it and what you used as color could help countless readers cope with many painful experiences. For those times when the pain and fear are bigger than words.
    Thank you again.

    • Reply Veronica December 21, 2014 at 7:11 am

      Thank you so much Joan. I was thinking of making a separate tab for the therapy journal, but for now I can tell you that I used a glue stick to glue the pages together, pencil, a sepia Pitt Faber Castell permanent pen in the S size, about a dozen Pitt Artist Pen Big Brush also by Faber Castell large felts in various colours, white ink and a brush, and a white and a silver gel pen…the kind children like to use, and that was all. The process of making a journal from an old book is an easy one and I describe it in this post. Hope this helps for now.

  • Reply kmmig December 19, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Touching and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your journal, it’s so beautiful and inspiring. Wishing you a continued recovery into new health! Karen

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Hello Karen, thank you so much. I’m sure all will be well now. X

  • Reply janetnz December 19, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Your journal is so beautiful Veronica. What a lovely idea.
    It astonished me, the sheer strength and courage of my sister as she underwent chemotherapy for her own rare cancer (appendix).
    You have that same courage, and I am in awe.
    I have a suggestion. Something that helped Sue when her tastebuds went wonky from the medication… Pineapple. There is apparently something about the enzymes in pineapple that can help. Sue like it icy, as her mouth was dry too. I would blend a tin of crushed pineapple and freeze it to a slush. She would have it by the teaspoon. Later, when she was unable to eat at all she would suck on an ice lock of pineapple juice.
    I hope this will help you as your body heals and recovers.
    I wish you all the very best in the world.
    From a fellow Farmy follower
    Janet Kennedy

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Hello fellowship friend. Thank you so much for your kind words. The Dr at the Wellness centre also told me that lemons help to awaken taste buds. My mother, who reads my blog, remembered your kind suggestion and bought me some frozen pineapple today. Thank you so much. With lemons and pineapple I’m sure I’ll be just fine. I’ll pop over and visit you and get to know you very soon. x

  • Reply cernwife December 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I am in awe of your resilience and your artistry. You are an inspiration. I hope that the radiation has killed those damn wonky cells, and that you will radiate health and strength from now on. Even though we haven’t met, I will say the public Jewish healing prayer in your name when I go to the synagogue tomorrow. Karen Pliskin

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Karen, you are so sweet, thank you so much. I hope that the next time you come up to visit your daughter I’ll be in town and can give you a big hug. Much love. x

  • Reply whimsygizmo December 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Oh.My.Goodness.
    This could not be more beautiful. Your words, your art, your heart.
    I am praying you have kicked cancer’s ass every bit as selectively and completely as you have chosen exactly the right words from each of these gorgeous pages. I am praying there are nothing but colorful, incredible hope-filled and joy-bubbled days ahead. I am praying these past few months leave you with nothing but a small scar, and a new exhilaration for every breath.

    And I am running out – SOON – to purchase several old, inexpensive used books that might speak to me in some small way, to “find” something on their pages. I am no artist, but I love color and words, and yours here have touched me deeply, and inspired me beyond words.

    Be well, you amazing creative soul, you.

    de

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      Thank you so much darling De. We’ve been friends for three years now and I think that you would make the most beautiful poetry books of found poetry. The times I’ve read your poems to C…I can’t even count. You weave magic with the words you use. I’m in awe of your talent…you amazing creative soul, you! X

  • Reply pomomama December 19, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Xxx

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Big hugs right back to you Amanda. x

  • Reply cakabala December 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Oh, Veronica!
    What a treasure you are.
    How fortunate I am to have made your acquaintance during Robert Brewer’s challenge.
    I have always loved your art, but this is beyond magnificent.

    To quote your own (and Mr. Nicol’s) words,

    “with the judicious eye of the artist, You come to life”.

    Thank you for being brave, and for sharing this.
    My sister (stage 4) recently said, “You know, I thought I might live at least as long as my parents.”
    This may help her, as she tries to “take it as it comes.” Thank you.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Charlie, I’m also so happy that we met and are friends on FB where I can catch up with you all the time. I’m so sorry to read about your sister. The wellness centre Inspire Health gave a load of information about the things which people who have gone into spontaneous remission have in common. Do you think something like that might help? Big hugs to you and to her. x

  • Reply tinyWOOLF December 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    my. veronica. gobsmacked.
    your honesty about this life changing monstrosity which you so ‘lovingly’ call wonky cells (what a good idea) is so, so touching. so brave. so wise. so courageous.
    i shan’t add any words, you have the honour. this post will stay with me throughout my day.
    it moves me to tears how mr. nicol helped you to save yourself. and how your family is there, every step of the way. you have incredible spirit, veronica.
    thank you.
    nadine?

    • Reply tinyWOOLF December 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      and your art in your book is stunning. simply stunning. x

      • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:19 pm

        Thank you Nadine. I think that, with your amazing imagination, if you were to make one it would be out of this world. x

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Thank you so much dearest. Big hugs. x

  • Reply Jennifer J. Chow December 19, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Wow, Veronica. Thanks for being so courageous and sharing this. It really touched and encouraged me to hear your story.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you so much Jennifer. Now to make some cookies! Yes? Big hugs. x

  • Reply joanne headington December 19, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    You are precious.
    Sending you pockets full of love and hugs.
    (I hope you know)
    xx

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      You are precious to me too Joanne. I will make an extra effort to get over to Wales this summer to see you. Love and hugs right back. x

  • Reply Patrice A. December 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    oh…. Veronica,
    your words and art, straight into my heart
    you are a very special and strong woman, and boy! so talented!!
    i am sorry to say that there is cancer in our family, all sorts
    but they way you handled it and turned it into a beautiful book of art…. wauw
    yes, you are precious and i would love to hold and hug you
    so we could laugh about it together
    thank you!
    xx Patrice A.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Hello my darling artist friend. One day we’ll find ourselves close enough for that big hug. Thank you so much. x

  • Reply Irene December 20, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Wishing you well, Veronica. Thanks for sharing your journey. Your art therapy is beautiful work.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you so much Irene. Everything’s going to be fine now. X

  • Reply Melodye Shore December 20, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Your art therapy is therapy for all of us–gorgeous through and through, and truer than true. I feel honored and moved to my core by your courage, strength and beauty, written & illustrated between its covers.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Aw, thank you so much Melodye, your words touch me deeply. Much love to you dearest. xx

  • Reply Christie December 20, 2014 at 4:42 am

    Sending love and hugs as you recover from your arduous journey. Thank you for sharing your experiences and art. It provides inspiration on so many levels.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you so much Christie, as I type this I have your lovely cat art card beside me and have you in my warmest thoughts. x

  • Reply mysoulfulhome December 20, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Veronica – my heart is talking to you now…I cannot express all of what I feel in characters typed. You are brave, wise, beautiful, talented & I wish us to be old ladies together – with our crafts, paints & pencil boxes. That I know will be the far off future. For now, I wrap you & Chloe in a big embrace. I am sorry I did not know before so that in any small way I could have help. But I understand completely. In the new normal you are even a stronger version of yourself. Thank you for sharing as you did, so we too can be stronger & wiser for your experience. much love, kelly

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Kelly, one day I’m going to be in California and give you such a big hug! Thank you so much for these beautiful words. x

  • Reply Bungalow Hostess December 20, 2014 at 8:43 am

    You are such an amazing artist and your eloquent and honest writing about your personal journey shows what a strong woman you are and how graciously you have born the brunt of a serious and life altering diagnosis with such class and style. I have immense respect for you….thank you for sharing this amazing experience with us.
    Take care and enjoy your continued recovery.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you so much Hostess. I’ve only just met you thru your blog but am so happy I did. x

  • Reply daryledelstein December 20, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    hugs .. that’s it … you know as a wonkycell survivor myself, i say: welcome to the club

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      All weepy now. I completely adore you Daryl and one day I’m going to give you such a big hug! xx

  • Reply Dewena Callis December 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you, Veronica. It’s a good thing you have done here, letting us share, letting us know at this time, letting us pull for you, letting us pass it on if needed, letting us remember the things you did to give you strength so that we can be inspired by it and determined by it when we may need it, or when we can be to others what your loved ones were to you throughout this time. You’ve tossed a pebble into the water that may go on rippling in ways you never dreamed of.

    • Reply Veronica December 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Hi Dewena, Thank you so much sweetie. I do hope that my experience might help others. I love the idea of a ripple fanning out. That’s a beautiful thought. Big hugs. xx

  • Reply Catherine Llewellyn December 21, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I love all these international hugs being shared and promised!! Brings a huge silly smile to my face X

  • Reply Tammie December 21, 2014 at 11:25 am

    oh my goodness
    such an intense experience you have been through and come out the other side.
    please be gentle with yourself for a good long time as your body finds normal and vitality again.

    I love the sort of art you did during this time
    a mix of found words that work for you and art to support, express, inspire and more.

    thank you for sharing your story/experience
    for your inspiring way with this.

    I think of you and smile
    and send a big hug
    and send you healing rays
    and love.

  • Reply Gill Thompson December 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    You are totally awesome.x

  • Reply Lavender Dreams December 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Oh sweet Veronica! You wrote this post so beautifully that I know it will help others that are facing the same struggle. My family has been touched by cancer so I know how scary it can be. I’ll keep you in my prayers. You are a wonderful example to all of us. What a beautiful woman you are and a good friend to us all. Sending you lots of sweet hugs, Diane

  • Reply Jeri Lynn December 23, 2014 at 6:13 am

    That was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • Reply Molly December 24, 2014 at 2:38 am

    I missed this post until now.
    I’m so sorry you had to go through this Veronica but my, you fought this brave fight with such creativity and grace.
    Thank you for sharing this amazing journal – and your experience.
    I hope things just get better and brighter from here on and you have a very warm and loving Christmas with all those good people in your life.
    Much love from SA.

  • Reply Renee December 29, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Veronica,

    Today I started a new journal in an old discarded book, called Jack and Jill, by Louisa May Alcott. I am going to be a grandma soon, and decided to dedicate the book to my soon to be granddaughter. I want to introduce her to our family in a creative way, and since she will be living in a city six hours away, I felt this may be a good way for her to get to know us. On The first few pages I decided to create dedication pages circling words from the text like you do. As I was circling the words, I was thinking about you, Veronica! I was thinking how clever and creative you are, and I was feeling very grateful for how your journals have inspired me to use the text to find clever sayings to journal about. When I finished applying gesso around the words, I thought to myself, I have been ignoring my blogging friends, and I needed to check up on how you are doing! To my surprise, I discovered through this post that you have been experiencing wonky cells. I sure hope and pray that the new year will bring about new strength and continued creativity! I am so sorry to hear that you were going through such trying times. My dad has been going through the same experience with different type of wonky cells, but I now understand some of his effects because of your very articulate and beautiful way of expressing yourself both through this post and your powerful reflection in your journal! Thank you so much for helping me by being open. You are a marvellous lady and I sincerely hope that all will be well for you! Thank you for changing my artistic life! I have even shown my grade one students your technique of finding messages in old text! They think it is amazing, as do I!

    Your Albertan friend,
    Renee

  • Reply Lin October 20, 2015 at 7:46 am

    This is such a generous and beautiful post, Veronica. Thank you for leaving me a comment at my blog so that I could come here to read it.

    The journal page I most connected with had these words circled “alone. you’re Fine.”

    I think I learned this years ago when we lost our jobs and home and were financially forced to move out of the city to be able to “afford” to live on an undeveloped piece of mountain land in an old RV. At first I felt very alone, and as if everyone around me was doing great while I (we) were in serious trouble. But living in the forest as we do now, there is great peace to be found in nature. The stars. The phases of the moon. The return of the birds. The thought that all continues on, in balance, as it should. And in time I came to realize that there isn’t an imbalance when some people are doing fine while others suffer ~ that instead IS the balance. The ability for some to lend a hand when others need it.

    None of us could get through cancer without other people in our lives including complete strangers. They support and help us through.

    I have a different kind of cancer. Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. I have always been independent, healthy and strong, and suddenly I was told I had a stage four aggressive cancer. Unbelievable. Treatment started Aug 11 and every day since has been a challenge. My husband recognized several times that I was in trouble (which I was too sick to realize) and took me to the Emergency Room.

    So I’m in the middle of this journey. I don’t know what will happen next, but I still have that lesson of peace from when we lost our home. The lesson that all continues on, in balance, as it should.

    Your journal is honest and beautiful. I am so glad that you found a way to cope and get through that time. My wish for you is that you will continue to feel better with each day and enjoy your beautiful life all the more for having had this experience.

    Much love. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.
    Lin

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