Monday, June 23, 2008

Random Acts Of Kindness .... June 23, 2008

When you're ill and people just show up out of the blue to help or simply drop off something for you to enjoy, it's called a random act of kindness. And believe me when I say it's so greatly appreciated.

On June 14, Trent and I went to the Blue Jays game in Toronto. Trent had never been to the Rogers Centre and so my brother Blaine, his daughter Melanie and son Roman met us in Toronto for an afternoon of baseball and dinner. It was a great day for Trent and I to spend together with his cousins and uncle of which we don't get to see very often. I also enjoyed the day because it was a day I didn't have to think about my illness, except of course for the beer at the game that I had to pass up when Blaine offered to purchase.

So while Trent and I were off enjoying an open Rogers Centre and a Chicago Cub victory, Jennifer was at home alone when she received a telephone call from friends of ours who just happened to enquire as to whether or not I had opened the pool for the season. When Jennifer responded that I had not, the friend suddenly responded to Jennifer's surprise that he'd be right over to help. And before Jennifer could say anything else, the friend was off the phone and on his way. But not only did he arrive alone with his wife but another couple joined them as well. And while the two couples worked around my house cutting grass and opening the pool Jennifer told me she was almost in tears because of this incredible random act of kindness. For these two couples to take a few hours of their precious Saturday after working all week to come and help us out with cutting the grass and opening the pool, it's was just too good to be true. A greatly appreciated act of kindness on their part.

When Trent and I arrived home later that evening after the ball game and a delicious dinner at the Yonge Street Koren Grill, I noticed that the grass had been cut. Jennifer's certainly not one to cut the grass so I knew something was up. Then as I entered the house I heard a strange sound coming from the open dining room patio door which sounded much like a motor running. Sure enough the pool was crystal clear and the pump in operation. I asked Jennifer, what went on here today and she told me.

She also held up a plate of chocolate macaroons of which a former summer student employee of mind had also dropped for me to enjoy. Jennifer and I looked at each other and I nearly cried. (I did actually, but I don't want to say that publicly).

Random acts of kindness are probably the greatest gift of all. I've always thought of myself as a kind person but what these and many others have done for me over the course of my illness now and in 2006 are far beyond what I have ever done to support another person. This type of giving with no expectation of return gives me a better understanding of what kindness really is all about. When I phoned to thank the two couples on Sunday morning personally, each couple said that after they left our house they both felt incredibly thankful to be able help as they did and the whole event made them feel very good inside.

I should also mention that since I've been off work I have received numerous cards from fellow employees, work related associations, friends, the local MPP, and others who are all helping me to stay positive during my treatments. Two of my very best high school friends came over one day and in another random act of kindness helped me to clean out my garage. And I have also received flowers, soup, movies and of course rides to Toronto for my treatments from friends and family who are all playing a vital role in my battle. I suppose, I am the general of this army and all of these random acts of kindness shall serve as my warriors until victory over this disease is complete. Heck, I'm starting to sound like William Wallace.

The point is that I guess it's a good time to thank all of you who have supported me in this fight thus far. To anyone who has felt the burden of cancer you know that when someone shows a random act of kindness, it makes you feel stronger, safer and better. Please keep helping me fight.


Appointment number 6 in Toronto was a typical day of blood work, lunch at Druxy's and then the dreaded chemo injection in the arm. The one thing that was very different on this day is the smell of the hospital. I getting sick of it. And I mean literally. I felt nauseated when I stepped into the front foyer of PMH this time and the stench of it was in my throat until we left.

Now I've been in many hospitals, eaten the food like no tomorrow and naturally enjoyed the attention of some of the nurses but the thought of going back to PMH next week is already getting to me. Does anyone have any ideas of how not to think of the smell of the hospital so I won't feel like throwing up. A week off will certainly help but if you have any idea, please let me know.

My nephew Nathan Latchford drove from Beachburg, Ontario (just west of Pembroke, Ontario) on Tuesday, June 17th to take me to Toronto. Nathan is a very good lad who grew up in the city but always worked and played on the Hutchinson farm in Otonabee. And so, after years of 4-H cattle shows, Nathan found himself a fiancee, Jackie, and so has moved away to Beachburg, Ontario to work in the in-law family business as well as continue with his love for cattle on the family farm. His life is different now then when he lived in Peterborough, he told me. "It's much slower up there Uncle Barry and I love it," he said.

I'm happy that Nathan is happy. It's important to be happy in life and I wish him and Jackie all the best in the world. He also asked me to share emcee duties at his wedding next June 2009. I told him that without question I would be there!

Nathan didn't know it at the time and quite frankly neither did I but at that moment Nathan officially joined my army. You see he gave me a reason to keep fighting and living until I can participate in his and Jackie's wonderful event. I can't wait to share in those duties.

Thanks for reading and sharing...

Next Blog - The Longest Day... June 30, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

5th Day of Chemo - June 10, 2008

Father's Day has a whole new meaning this year.

In the past, the day was simply another event during the calendar year in which I got to see my father. As we get older, we begin to realize slowly just how fortunate we are to have our parents still around. And I'm especially lucky because my mom and dad still live close by and we do see them rather frequently. But this year, it's all going to be different.

I know my mom is having a tough time with my current condition. She's always been there for me and has looked after me forever. Jennifer still gets angry at times when my mother sticks up for me in her very sweet way of trying to keep me from harm. It's a Moms right to care and love for her child the way my mom does with me. She certainly doesn't want any harm to come to me and I know she's angry that all this is happening to her baby boy. I have to be strong so she can be strong too.

And I have to be strong for my father too. Back when everything was good (And I like to refer to that period as prior to 2006), my father would simply go with the flow. He would come to the house, do the odd thing to help out, serve his time at the family gathering, but honestly he was a lot like me and he would simply by his time until the end of the event, when he would say, "Come'on Lorraine, it's time to go home".

But not anymore. I can sense that my Dad aches when he see me these days. I know that he loves me and that he feels terrible for what I am going through. He's sorry, he wants to help but he knows there's not much he can do. I feel for him, especially now that I am a father, and in the same way, I too feel sorry for Trent and his pain with this entire misadventure. It's simply not fair .

The one thing my father never did as I grew up was too allow me to feel sorry for myself. He told me too many times "just do what you could do and have fun doing it". And that was always good enough for him. He wanted me to play sports and so I did, to the best of my ability. And it was a good solid respectable way of life for me. So good that it pushed me in the career I am in today and without my father's respect and admiration I certainly would not have 3 Mann Cup rings to my credit nor the experience of coaching professional lacrosse for the past four seasons.

I was also lucky enough to get his great personality. Everybody loves my Dad. He's funny, quirky, easy to talk too, a great listener and the best damn thing about him is that he's out there in the community for the kids, not himself. And if you're one of my top thousand friends you'll see similar qualities in me. Confidence included.

So today, Friday, after a long week of dragging my ass after chemo injection number 5, I went out today and bought my father a Father's Day gift. Honestly, it's probably the first that I have personally purchased for him ever. I know that sounds disgusting but that's the way it has been for the past 43 years. Like I said things now are different. I feel good about the gift. I feel good about inviting my parents and my brother and my sister to my house on Sunday for an afternoon Father's Day Lunch. I'm not going to say this might be the last Father's Day but I will say that it will be a memorable and emotional one.

And I'm going to hug and kiss my father on Sunday like never before. Because I know what he's feeling inside. And I want him to know that I do love him.


My sister Beth took me to Toronto this past Tuesday for my 5th Chemo injection. The day went rather smooth until the end when she announced that she didn't want me to write about her in my blog. I laughed and said, "the blog is simply a way to express my feelings Beth. I would never mean to offend anyone."

Beth has had a tough week with some extensive internal water damage at her house due to a crack in their bathroom toilet. So I suppose I'll decline from writing about her. If I were so inclined however, I was simply going to write about how nice it was to talk to her one-on-one for that day without family, parents and others around. You see, we rarely get to visit like that without others. My sister is a smart, beautiful woman who loves me as much as my mother and father do. She's been beside me at Sick Kids, Toronto General and now Princess Margaret through thick and thin. She's kind, generous and would do anything for me and my family. If there's one thing about these trips to Toronto is that there is always a silver lining. Being with a cherished family member for those eight hours is time well spent..... thank you.

Thanks for reading and sharing...

Next Blog - The 6th Chemo Visit.... June 18, 2008