Claire Martin

365 Day Lessons – by Claire Martin

This month last year I was diagnosed with melanoma. It was NOT how I expected to go through my 50th year, and it managed to lay waste to me and my normally busy life for the ensuing 4 months.

That said – this is 2017 – and so far (fingers and eyes crossed) – I’ve made it clear through my anniversary doctors appointment with a clean bill of health. 4 more of these yearly visits and I will be considered “cancer free”.

It’s amazing what life can throw at you. And it’s even more amazing when the light at the end of the “dark tunnel” appears bigger than the dark space itself, and you find yourself finally looking to the future without so much fear.

The BEST THING about a rogue (and thank God, fleeting) cancer diagnosis is the outlook you have afterwards.

I discovered hoards of old and new friends that came to lift me through the ordeal.
Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes last year.

And I decided to follow through on as many of my hospital-bed promises-to-self that I could:

1. Lighten up – life is to be enjoyed.
2. Love and laugh – 100% more than ever before.
3. Enjoy life – even the crappy, boring bits.
4. Move – check, check (my God that’s another story I need to write!)
5. Pay it forward.


Number 5 is the tough one. So far I’ve volunteered at Lions Gate Hospital, and I’ve reached out to a few people going through similar health issues to offer help and advice on a 1-1 level.

But we started #mybackyard as a safe place for our community to share stories and ideas – so I’m asking the community now, what else can I do?

Thanks for your thoughts!


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  • Reply Sheryl McCumsey June 28, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I’m glad you are well. There is a reason that there is so much cancer today- so #1 gives me problems. We are ignoring all the things we are doing on this planet that is making us sick. So maybe in some ways I am stuck on #5.

  • Reply Linda June 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Do IS the tough one. To volunteer at Lions Gate hospital follows. One wants to give back when people who have helped you, have. Maybe first up, chat to yourself as to what you think you are good at….could be a long chat! By writing the above you are doing just that…….opening up the conversation. People don’t appreciate what they have got until they lose it. Put that together with DO and supposing one went back a bit.

    Example. At the week end there were literally hundreds of people lying on the beach at Kitsilano with not much on! It flashed through my mind ….I wonder if they have cream on? I say this because I have skin cancer. I’m fair skinned, an ex-red head covered in freckles and lived in Italy for years, skied, sailed and lived an outdoor life. Did I think of sunscreens all those years ago, nope. So at 69 my lifestyle has caught up with me.

    Now, does one do a DO?! Walk the beach with a sign…….”CREAM UP… could save your life.”

    I guess awareness is the way to go…..people know a sugary drink is not good for them, neither is a day without exercise. Wonder what the chances are of persuading supermarkets to hang a sign of somebody obese over the sugary drinks counter? That would be a DO…….me and my bright ideas!

    I recognise your feelings to DO, I’ve been there with many different hats on, it is exactly why the idea for #whymybackyard is a good idea.

    Spin the wheel, let’s see what comes up!



  • Reply Shari Whittaker June 28, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    If you are doing the first 4 number 5 will come when it is needed. I too have been through two cancers and it does change one’s thinking. For me going to the gym and doing pilates are important to so I can keep strong and healthy. I will be 75 in August and do not want to go through that terror again. My breast cancer was 8 years ago and my colorectal cancer 6 years ago. I am now ‘cancer free’. Some days I forget how grateful I am. Thank you for reminding me Claire.

  • Reply Mike Noon June 28, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Claire: It’s wonderful to hear you are well. Like many others, my wife and I have loved you from afar for many years.
    In some ways, I find your question difficult to answer. You have made so many people happier over the years, simply by being who you are; cheery, and gracious whenever we see you. Please don’t underestimate the positive influence your cheerful presentation has on others.
    How to do more to pay it forward? First, don’t tax yourself with too much work at paying it forward. Take care of yourself. You don’t have to take on big commitments at volunteer work to make a difference. Small bits of helpfulness to people can be very meaningful to them. Just dropping by to say hello and share a cup with a shut-in can make a person’s week. One of the little things I do, is to fill bird and deer feeders at our local hospice each day. It’s close by, only takes me ten minutes, I enjoy it, and the people in the building and their loved ones love being able to see the wildlife. It takes little effort on my part; but brings joy to many. So, I guess my suggestion is, look for activities that bring you joy, as well as others, and don’t take on more than is good for you. Short little endeavours that meet a need, but allow you the time to look after yourself are just fine.

    Best wishes, and lotsa love,


  • Reply Erin Berube June 28, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    I think you just need to continue to share your story. You are a powerful, influencial woman – cotinue to share, share, share as you have done.xoxo

  • Reply Claire Martin June 28, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Love this Linda. DO is absolutely the the toughest part. I will DO exactly as you suggest and see where it leads. Thx..

  • Reply visualrecordingCarol Roberts June 28, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Start painting, watercolor or acrylic. Buy a bunch of stuff at opus and jus start making colorful messes of life around you. Let me know if you need a friend to do this with.

  • Reply everett raeburn June 29, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    my wife has battled breast cancer and continues to battle MS. sometimes, just just being there to listen is the biggest difference you can make. kudos claire. ev xoxo

  • Reply Bonnie Crozier June 30, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Claire. ……..wishing you continued good health!

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