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Jody Vance

Jody Vance

Going Clear – by Jody Vance

Preventative medicine is key to longevity, we’ve all heard that mantra – time and time again – yet all too often our “procedures” take a back seat to life.

I was guilty of that.

There was always tomorrow, next week, next month.  If there was a reason to have a love one checked out, however, that was a priority.

I woke up to the reality that I was not walking the walk — preaching prevention and yet not getting the mammogram or the colonoscopy or pap that my Dr not-so-subtly suggested I do with regularity.

Well, that changed this past spring.  As we know with Canadian healthcare, we often need to wait in line for our procedures…so, I made a deal with myself that I would cover all of my missed bases this fall.  I booked it all, in ink.  My promise to myself was that these appointments would be immoveable.  I’m proud to say that today I put a big check mark beside them all.

Yesterday was the grand finale: the colonoscopy.  I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT a big deal.  Yes, the prep sucks — “prep” is a nice way of saying you clean out your system a-la a trendy cleanse without the trendy process.  It’s a massive dose of laxative that you take after 7 days of a restricted diet (no seeds, nuts, whole grain breads, corn etc).  It’s 24 hours of fasting, no big deal, and then a few hours on the toilet followed by a few more hours in the GI Clinic to have the :20 procedure.

“The Procedure” is quite uneventful. My first time, 7 years ago, I slept through it — this go around I was awake, but didn’t watch.  I think I talked the entire time, but don’t really know what about.  (insert chatty Jody remark). I do recall asking my Harvard Graduate of a GI Specialist to “come on the show”.

Yes, you get an IV – so those who hate needles will not like that part.  That said Natalie, who spends her days inserting the IV’s in patients, was amazing.  She puts you at ease – calls you “Darlin” while giving you a warm blanket and taking blood pressure…..she was an angel in a place that many might find scary.  I saw many characters move through this room.  One man was unable to tell Natalie if he’d had any medication that day as his “wife is in charge of everything” and he simply “does what she says” — needless to say, I love him.  There was another woman who came through saying that she’s had “dozens of these” when Natalie asked her ‘every patient question’ about their history.  This woman also said she’d “seen the doctor this week and he’s taking a biopsy today.”  This woman was in the thick of colon cancer — a 75 year old survivor — working hard to tack on further decades of cancer free existence.

Over the course of my 3 hours in the GI Unit, I heard many stories.

Let me take you back to my first few minutes.  I had just changed into the garb — the double tie piece of blue cotton we all draped around ourselves.  This is a very communal experience, no place to be shy.  I immediately met “Jed”, while standing at the Nurse’s station.  Jed recognized me (which is always fun when standing in a hallway dressed in only hospital robe).  This was Jed’s first time at the GI clinic and, while was clearly a kind, and cool, customer – he was a little nervous.  We found ourselves going through much of the process together. Chatting through the waiting time, navigating the various rooms involved in the process, hilariously we found we had friends in common and were even connected by business.

Jed’s Dr was running on schedule, so in he went — my physician was running behind due to a bit of an emergency.  Being on “stand by” — or sit by, I guess as I sat amidst it all watching as a gentleman in the far corner bed seemed to be suffering great discomfort.  My Doctor on him like a fly on honey.

My front row seat, while unnerving, showed me the pressure involved in the work day of a physician.  So often we hear complaints about our medical system, but WOW is it something to see a great Doctor in motion.

For reference sake, her name is Jennifer Telford.

I watched and waited.  Impressed by her care and concern – knowing that my wait meant this man would be on the fast track to finding comfort and relief.  If you need urgent care, you do not wait.  Big lessons.

While I sat there, Jed came out of his procedure.  He was wide awake and gave me the thumbs up as he reached for his iPhone to scroll through his social media.  Whew.

Once things started moving in my direction, it all happened so quickly.  All of a sudden you are everyone’s priority.  All of a sudden your well being is the #1 subject matter.  Dr. Telford was quick to tell me that it was “All Clear, no polyps, see you in 5 years.”

It took seemingly no time at all for me to be handed cranberry juice and the tastiest tea cookies EVER. (they gave me extra) … I went off to retrieve my belongings out of locker #14.

As I walked out, I waved to the young (I’m assuming son) man waiting for the man who’d been in pain.  They all looked much more relieved than an hour prior.  Jed left, and I likely won’t see him again — however we both have stories for our mutual friends for the next dinner party.

A couple of days out of my life to know that my high risk colon is fine. Colonoscopy = check = piece of mind.

Do it.  Just put it in ink and get it done.  Ask for Dr. Telford…..she’s the goods.

 

 

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Jody Vance

The Man in the Next Bed – by Jody Vance

Getty Images: Sturti

Over the past week our family has been experiencing “the best of a worst case scenario”.

Two months ago my Mom had a colonoscopy that found a cancerous mass that needed immediate attention.  Being that this is mom’s second time having surgery to remove cancer from her colon, the first was 20 years ago, we were all rightfully worried. This time around, unlike the 8 inch scar from surgery #1, it would be arthroscopic — far less invasive — yet still very scary given that she’s 79 years old next month.

We held our breathe awaiting the CT scan results.  We collectively exhaled when it came back “contained”.  Once again, a precautionary colonoscopy would save her life.

We are thrilled to be able to take her home today, after 8 days at St. Paul’s Hospital where she received incredible care day and night.

Mom has been in a ward with three other beds, she in the one by the window overlooking English Bay from the 10th floor.

While two of the other three beds saw the people come and go…the man in the “next bed” was in from her arrival, and is still there.  We chatted on my daily visits, he is kind and gentle in his tone and concern for mom.  Yesterday when I went in, it was clear that he had undergone another surgery (He has Chrones) and his moans were heart-wrenching.  He’s had many visitors, so this is not a sad post of loneliness — however, I’m worried about him.  His great attitude and calm were a steadying force for our family and yet, here he is struggling to re-gain his health.

As we gather our mom’s belongings, and get set to happily take her home, we send love light and healing vibes to the Man in The Next Bed.

Hug your family and friends — and above all, value your health.

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Jody Vance

My New Job(s) – by Jody Vance

It’s been a topsy-turvy last 18 months, and I would not change a damn thing.

Seeing opportunity in unplanned change is what I do, there’s always a silver lining.

In March of 2016 I was part of massive cost-cutting layoffs at Rogers, leaving me without a full-time job for the first time in my adult life.  It was both scary and a massive relief — I’m not really a morning person, so five years of 4am wake ups was a grind for me both physically and emotionally (with a wee lad in the mix).

After the lay-offs, my boy and I took our long overdue trip to Spain, then I got busy with “what’s next” planning.

Enter my friend Drex.  He called me to see if I might be interested in “doing radio” again — with his team at CKNW.  I started in the fall of 2016.  Exercising my Newstalk muscles during this calendar year was like learning to ride a bike while jumping into a group headed up the sea-to-sky on the Grand Fondo.  (Trump, terrorist attacks, BC election chaos, housing crisis) It was an education and great challenge, I like to think that I found my voice.

Thankfully the job taught me a great deal about our city, our country, our continent and the world.  I worked along side some of the kindest and most generous broadcasters imaginable.  The leadership was second-to-none. Yesterday I said goodbye to them, as my next adventure awaits.

THIS IS WHAT’S NEXT:

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA—September 13, 2017 – Roundhouse Radio, 98.3 has added a nationally acclaimed voice to the heart of their weekday schedule with the addition of veteran broadcaster Jody Vance beginning Monday, September 25th 2017.

MIDDAY WITH JODY VANCE – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (Weekdays):  With energy, honesty and a wicked sense of humour, Jody will bring depth, topical conversation and her trademark wit to Roundhouse Radio middays. Expect lively conversations talking all things news, opinion, sports, parenting, pets, lifestyle and food. And that’s just to get started!

Jody Vance brings decades of radio and TV experience to our airwaves both locally and across Canada — among many accomplishments, she has had her own national sports program, news anchor, host of Breakfast Television, and most recently she has been at CKNW talking about news and current affairs.  Mother to a young son, she knows the path of parenting and holds a red seal in Culinary Arts so there may be a recipe or two to be shared every now and then…

Roundhouse Radio CEO Don Shafer: “We are very excited to bring Jody’s considerable talents to Roundhouse Radio on a daily basis. Her level of broadcast experience and professionalism runs deep. People will be tuning in for her signature style of conversation”.

Added to the mix is an unexpected puzzle piece, and if you know me – and my passion for sports – it’s an important piece, indeed.  I get to continue to grow my role with Sportsnet 650 radio, the newest arm of that great brand here in Vancouver.  Nothing specific to report at the moment, but as we say in radio: Stay Tuned.

It’s all very exciting and I will continue to share news, views and adventures here on Mybackyard.press along side our wonderful contributors.

Get to your radio and lock in FM 98.3, I will meet you there each day starting in two weeks time.

 

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Claire Martin

Today – We Remember – by Claire Martin

September 11. Not 2001.
I’m writing this on my iPhone. Mainly cos I can. Mostly because when the urge to write hits, it just pounds into me and I have no other way to put the proverbial “pen to paper”.
So I write.
It’s Sept 11. And as someone just said in a tweet “Ok people. Summer is over. Back to work. This isn’t France!”  So with a tip of the hat to the great people of France, here we go.
Sept 11, for anyone over the age of 16 is a sad, and tough, day. Ironically enough it’s my best friend’s birthday – and as she says “it’s forever tainted”.
But I digress.
This post is about social media  And powerful posts.
Now to be honest Twitter/Facebook/Instagram etc hasn’t made Sep 11th any tougher – but it does make it more visual. I follow Pete Souza on Instagram. Aside – if you don’t – you should. He is essentially, and somewhat exquisitely, trolling the US president. Whenever Trump says or does something “Trumpish” (note my restraint Sarah?!) Pete simply posts a photo reminding us of the grace and dignity of the former President (Obama) dealing with a similar situation. He annotates his photos (and they are breathtakingly beautiful) with simple stories.
Today – obviously – his feed is full of poignant anniversary shots.
They usually go viral.
Today people are telling stories in response to the stories. In the lexicon of social media – they are brief microblogs of unbelievable heartbreak.
But the overriding thread is always one of love. Of forgiveness. Of resolute belief that in times of adversity, our collective character is defined by our actions.
So on this tough day of remembrance I’ll send out a call to action.
We are bigger and better as a whole.
We are defined by our actions in times of adversity.
We can and always do better when we come together.
Today – please post words of love.
“Hey Jules.
This is Brian.
Ah listen. I’m on an airplane that has been hijacked.
If things don’t go well, and they’re not looking good, I want you know that I absolutely love you.
I want you to do good, have good times, same with my parents.
I’ll see you when you get here.
I want you to know that I totally love you.
Bye babe, hope I’ll call you. “
Brian Sweeney. Passenger. UA flight 175.
September 11, 2001.
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Claire Martin

The Taste of Home – by Claire Martin

I have just come back from a fabulous holiday, back home, in Jolly ‘ol Blighty.

I was primarily there to see family and friends, but I also managed to sneak in a fair few hours eating and drinking in great British pubs.

The pub culture in England is (‘scuse the pun) bar none! From a grubby “local” to a 16th century thatched tavern, taking an hour a day to sit in a pub is as requisite for a visitor as having an expresso in Italy or a patisserie in Paris.

For me, there is in fact, something almost sensual about the scent of an English pub. It is truly heavenly.

But enough of these wistful musings! Here’s my rant:

Food in England has improved immensely since I left! Pub grub has gone from being greasy egg and chips chased down with a warm and murky brown bitter, to roasted pigeon in a whiskey cream sauce, followed with a bowl of wild berry and brandy trifle – smothered in single or double cream. YUM!

Now for those of you that don’t know – cream in England is as heavenly and as unique as the pub culture itself! High in fat, double cream boasts a 48% fat content, while single cream is 22%. And we simply cannot get anything like it in Canada.

I’m not sure what is going – some websites tell me it’s to do with the pasteurization laws in Canada, some sites tell me to buy clotted cream.

For the record – clotted cream (although now widely available) at 55% fat does not work for baking nor (more importantly) making a proper Irish coffee – it curdles as soon as it hits the hot alcoholised liquid.

Since emigrating in the 1980’s I have learned to live without Persil detergent (now here, but with a devastatingly different smell), Fudge fingers (also available here now, though usually slightly older than their packaged “due-by” date), Tetley’s (sorry, other brands just don’t cut it), and real scotch eggs.

Sadly there are some products that appear to have eluded the “we-can-get-anything-anywhere” shipping industry, and as an ex-pat with a barely sated yearning for real double cream, I am imploring other ex-pats to help me out!

Where or how do I get real cream in Canada??

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Jody Vance

Marissa Shen – by Jody Vance

 

Marissa Shen — Photo of her (left) and day of disappearance (right)

With news cycles making us all feel as though we are caught under waves in a storm surge surf it’s a tough time to focus on what is happening here, in our backyard.

One thing consuming my quiet moments, like so many parents, is the tragic story of Marissa Shen’s murder.

I’m twisted in knots over the tragic taking of an innocent girl’s life in my exceptionally safe city.  In a time where we are inundated with stories of politics, terror and random acts of violence world-wide — this one hurts…extra.

Every single day we parents force ourselves to let our kids broaden boundaries, trust we’ve taught them enough, at least, to stay out of harms way in the world.

My boy is still young enough that letting him walk out the door with a curfew, and little else information-wise, isn’t my reality – yet.

This 13 year old girl, a girl well beyond the age of babysitting and pondering a future in junior high school in September, was free ranging in daylight hours when the unthinkable happened.

Details continue to be exceptionally sketchy with regard how she met her fate — however — having the RCMP, VPD and Homicide Investigators asking the public “to be vigilant” should be beyond frightening for citizens.

I’m in news … and unnerved.

Since her murder I’ve not let the kids in my care out of my sight, not even for a minute.  I won’t, until this homicide is solved.  It’s going against everything I’ve learned from the likes of Lenore Skenazy (read her) who’ve said, a million times how these events are like lightening strikes in how rare they are.  Rare….but real.

Many of my vintage were Tweens when Clifford Robert Olson was on the prowl…. I remember the calls to “be vigilant”.

Is there a predator on the loose in Metro Vancouver?  Is there someone who’s preying on young girls, boys, adults?  It’s tough to not assume so, with no suspect – or even “person of interest”- announced.

The obsession with world news (US Politics) is seeing this story fade from the headlines….it can’t and shouldn’t, until solved.

WE need to be diligent, WE need to help authorities figure out the timeline of her movements prior to her death.  We need to keep this story alive so that we can help bring the person, or people, responsible for this tragedy to justice.

Please consider sharing this post so that anyone with the slightest bit of intel might communicate with IHIT to share any information.  The tip line is: 1-877-551-4448.  Anonymous tips to Crimestoppers.

For more on the humanity side of this tragedy….read what her brother said this about his sister’s death ….. tragic.

 

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Dini Petty

Footwear Flip Flop – by Dini Petty

Getty Images: Chris Hackett

 

I’ll never wear flip flops again
I owned one pair of flip flops, dark blue rubber ones with an orthotic support base that I wore for relatively short periods of time when I went swimming, my favourite exercise. But last winter while visiting my daughter Sam in La Quinta, California I ordered a pair of orthotically supported flip flops for summer wear. They arrived the day after I left so a friend visiting Sam brought them to Toronto early summer of this year and I began wearing them daily.
I spend a lot of time at my computer and when the aches and pain in my ankles, knees and thighs started I thought;
” I’m sitting too much.”
So I would get every ten- fifteen minutes and stretch and walk about. But to no avail, things got worse the pain increased to the point that my hips, knees and ankles ached constantly and eventually the little voice in my head screamed ” Go see Ian Murray!”
Core Strength is where Ian works his magic. He’s been working in the field of athletic therapy and high level sports medicine and rehabilitation for 15 years. He was a senior tour therapist with Cirque du Soleil for 10 years has completed numerous courses in the field of osteopathy, various manual therapy techniques, as well as emergency medicine and trauma courses; Ian specializes in Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) , myofascial and muscle energy techniques, strain/counter strain and various deep tissue techniques to help reduce pain and restore movement. I refer to Ian as ” The Wizard” and by the time I got to see him the pain was severe.
Each session begins with Ian watching you walk, observing how you move and where your body is out of balance. Then it’s on the table and he works his wonders. I happen to carry my flip flops into the room with me and when finished our session, Ian said; ” You’ve got to stop wearing flip flops. They caused the problem.”
What are you talking about Ian, flip flops caused all this pain?
Then he explained that flip flops were contributing to my issues because I was gripping too hard with my toes and the open heel wasn’t stable enough for me, making my knees and hips painful, but something with a heel strap should help that.
After one session with the Wizard the pain was gone, completely ( this is why I call him the Wizard). I diligently did the simple exercises Ian taught me and have never worn flip flops again because they don’t make flip flops with heel straps.
Now when I see someone walking with some difficulty or an odd gait, who appears to be in pain and their wearing flip flops, I resist the urge to run up to them and tell them my story but if you have ankle, knee, hips problems – take heed.
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Jay DeMerit

Creating Captains of Life – by Jay DeMerit

I may have spent 11 years in professional soccer locker rooms – but for the 23 years before then, I was a landscaper, house painter, and school cleaner. I was a basketball player, a wrestler, a track athlete, and a football player. I was a bartender, a traveller, and a university graduate in Industrial Design. Through 7 of my 11 years pro, I was chosen by my team to be the Captain. I got to Captain a team in the Premier League; the biggest soccer league in the world. I got to be the first signing and Captain of a new MLS franchise.

Was it because of all of those years I played on the top academy team or youth National team? No – I never even tried out for them. Was it because I ate, slept, and breathed the sport, or that that the time spent training on the soccer field far outweighed that of studying or just being a kid, having fun with my friends? Definitely not.

I believe Captains are chosen for two main reasons: their ability to lead (both on and off the field), and their ability to relate – to relate to teammates, to administrators, and especially the fans.

​Right now, we live in a world where athletes are signing professional contracts from the age of 10. Early specialization in all walks of youth development has become so normal that if kids show signs of talent, they get put on a fast track to that special academy Mom & Dad will have to take two mortgages out to afford and those things called school, other sports, hobbies, or friends are sacrificed in order for them to “make it”.

Modern day sport curriculums are based on how to become the next Messi or Lebron, the .001%. Imagine being told & believing your whole life that you are the 0.001%., and that all you need to do is focus on that one sport and the world will be yours. This is what every coach wants from each of their athletes to get the most out of them for the team. But what about for each of those athletes? Are we creating one-dimensional athletes whose ability & life skill levels are being way overshadowed by their confidence levels?

Now imagine , shortly after turning 18, that academy or college coach telling you that you are not actually good enough or that your most recent injury is just too devastating to ever expect to be back to full health again. For whatever reason, Lebron and Messi are no longer in your future. The crazy thing is, that this is what happens to 98% of young athletes. 98%. The small percentage will play through college or even enjoy a successful pro career before being faced with this reality.

What happened to all of those formative years during which development in other areas that could have led these kids down a new – and exciting – path more seamlessly? Was anyone asking them questions about their future skills or interests? Was anyone challenging their mindsets to be more than just athletes?

This is an argument for the development of a well-rounded individual, who has the ability to transfer all of the incredibly valuable lessons he or she has learned from sport – because those are not to be undermined – into a successful, fulfilling career and life beyond sport

The real concern as the once very popular “athlete” tries to identify new skills, a new identity, and a new life is that mental health issues start to creep in. That once all-important confidence level is at an all-time low, and they realize that the one thing that they have been told defines them for 18 or even 22 – years has been taken away from them. I’ve been witness to this way too many times, and I have had too many hard conversations with young athletes to not feel compelled to do something about it. Based on my experience, I feel like I have a responsibility to do something about it. One of my main reasons being when in 2011, the soccer community raised $223,000 on Kickstarter in 73 days to turn my rare path of becoming pro into a documentary film called Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story. These are people that I had never met before, raising that amount of money on my behalf. It was very empowering, and really gave me the inspiration to share my story.

​Last year I started Rise & Shine: Captains Camps. Soccer camps with a strong emphasis on all-round personal development; a curriculum carefully engineered to help kids identify other strengths and passions, to step out of their comfort zones and generate breakthrough thought patterns to equip them with the tools they’ll need to rise and shine within their soccer careers and far beyond. It’s a curriculum established to build on all of these concepts and to then cultivate a pass-it-on mentality through leadership training.

Boys & girls from the ages of 13-18 come to our Rise & Shine Retreat, where my wife (2010 Olympic Gold Medallist Ashleigh McIvor) and I live in the mountains of Pemberton, BC. They stay in really cool timber-framed outfitter tents onsite. For four days, we train on-field with coaches who have all played pro, but we also train with mentors who are ‘pro’ at something else. Doctors, entrepreneurs, Olympians, and many more successful, happy leaders within their own fields come up to the camp and share their stories of professional success, talk about their leading lives, and how they got there. Oh yeah, and we go for hikes to lakes to play raft wars and we also roast marshmallows over bonfires. Because you know, kids… I believe learning is a communal. Let’s be inclusive, let’s be well-rounded, let’s be relatable and learn through experience. Let’s create more captains of life, not just of sport.

How I know Jody, by Jay:

“Jody and I met after talking Whitecaps and life on Breakfast Television when I moved to Vancouver. Sharing a love for sports, community engagement, real people, and real issues, we continue to try to fly the flags of what is “good” in our world.”

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Charlotte Phillips

“Are you my mother?” – by Charlotte Phillips

Some people may remember this wonderful little beginner reading book by P.D. Eastman, edited in 1960 by Dr. Seuss. A little bird hatches while his mother is off getting food and before she can return, the baby sets off in search of his mother. He has no idea what she looks like so he asks several animals along the way, “Are you my mother?” This book popped into my memory today as I sat thinking about my own mother. We’ve been spending a lot of time together over the past few years and lately there has been a shift in who we both are. There are times when we don’t recognize each other.

Age related dementia is a strange beast. It is a gradual loss of the ability to think and remember. But it is different for everyone. The degree of loss and the psychological reaction to the loss are like endlessly changing weather patterns one can never truly adjust to.

Dementia affects the sufferer and the caregiver in strangely similar ways.

As the daily care and comfort of our mom is in my hands these days, the struggles she faces at her advanced age, both physically and mentally, are front and centre in my life, too. My ability to think and remember what’s really important in the grand scheme of things is something I struggle with.

My 94-year-old mom’s stage of dementia is not a constant or predictable one. She is in a transition phase. Where half of the time she is sharp and witty and in the moment. She engages in intelligent conversation and digs up nuggets of childhood stories that are full of detail and colour. The other half of the time, she can’t hold a thought, asks the same question 5 times in the span of one hour, is very confused and frightened by the confusion, and seems lost, actually depressed. She is strangely aware of the disconnects and often says, “Charlotte, I’m losing it.” There are times when one visit with Mom has both versions of her switching back and forth. Like a child playing with a light switch, you can only endure it for a short time.

This long weekend filled with 150th Birthday celebrations of Canada, seemed like a shifting moment in my life. It was the first time in 8 years, that my mom and I were not celebrating Canada Day together.

Canada Day ranks higher in Mom’s life than any other special occasion. She used to organize city celebrations back in her civic politician days in Saskatchewan. Although as a Newfoundlander, she voted against joining Canada in 1949, she eventually became one of its most patriotic citizens and devoted her life to making our country better.

I made sure her red blouse and white pants were hanging together in the middle of her clothes closet before I left for my weekend at my cottage. I felt bad about leaving her behind and a bit angry with myself for feeling bad. While I celebrated in the sunshine with a raucous crowd on Salt Spring Island, I knew my mom was alone, maybe watching the rainy festivities in Ottawa on her TV. I wondered if this would be the last Canada Day she’d be truly aware of. I think this way about a lot of special days Mom has always enjoyed in her long and eventful life. It’s sometimes hard to be present in my own life when I fret about hers.

Last week, I drove Mom out to the Drivers Licensing Centre in a nearby suburb to apply for a new BC ID photo card for her. I had not noticed that her current card had expired almost two years ago. As someone who no longer drives, this card is proof of her identity and is rather important for legal, financial and flight purposes. Her passport expired last year and as her health is such that out of country travel is not in the cards, we never bothered to renew her Canadian passport.

This particular day, the irony of our task was something we laughed about even though we were not quite on the same page. “Mom, isn’t it funny that you have no valid government issued identification proving you exist?” She laughed and then asked if I was renewing my card, too. Like it was a membership in something we both believed in and doing so was showing our support.

When she stood to have her photo taken by the government employee, she kept smiling like most people do for the camera. Even though the clerk asked her gently not to smile, Mom could not comprehend the request. I thought, in the grand scheme of things, anyone holding up the card to check her identity in person with the photo on the card, would see a striking resemblance because, for the most part, Mom is always smiling.

As the coming year unfolds, I know I’ll be quietly asking the question, “Are you my mother?” This kind of dementia slowly takes ones identity away. There is no before and after, only a fluid, unpredictable in-between time. I guess living in the moment will have to be suspended sometimes. I will remember our Mom the way she used to be and treat her with dignity and respect. In the meantime, I will try to keep smiling, myself and to always be, “her baby”.

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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!

Claire

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