Monday, May 14, 2018


Friday,May6/2016,I went for a routine colonoscopy that dramatically changed my life. I was there because.a  friend ,whose daughter in law is a physician, had recommended he undergo a colonoscopy. Thinking that was good advice,I arranged to have one myself.
Thus, I found myself being wheeled into an operating room,where I was explained the procedure and given a mild sedative. The nurse, in good spirits ,knowing I was a P.hD.,explained I was getting the VIP service,and then promptly fluffed my pillow.
 The procedure was painless and proceededwithout incident. Little did I know what  awaited me. After I was taken to the recovery area ,I was told to dress and wait for the Doctor..When the Doctor arrived heasked me to follow him to his office. This was not good.
He told me there was a 50 percent chance thatI had colon rectal cancer. The results of the biopsy  would confirm or deny it. I knew then I had cancer.
 I was shocked. It felt like my whole life was flashing before me.Thoughts of death dominated.What to do,who to tell and how to cope seemed overwhelming.. I returned home,where alone, I no longer had to play the strong role. I let it out ,crying uncontrollably,for what seemed like minutes but was actually seconds.Somehow, I regained control and gradually begin to address the issues I faced.
 I contacted my support system, my family and friends,whom I had been there over the years. Many stood with me during my 2 year ordeal, however others whom I had expected to be there, simply went their own way.At a time of crisis you quickly learn who has your back. Surprising I met a number of compassionate and caring people,including a remarkable cadre of cancer healthcare professionals,whom I have the upmost respect, and I proudly call colleagues today.
 Secondly I utilized all of my personal and professional contacts to get the best medical advice possible, including  circulating my medical file to other cancer centers in Canada. .Although I choose to have my surgery and treatment in Ottawa I did not preclude the possibility of going elsewhere.
Thirdly I did my own due diligence. I spoke to friends,colleagues and any medical professional I respected. I researched colon-cancer on the internet and became very familiar with my options.
Looking  back 2 years, after having endured 2 operations,chemotherapy and 30 radiation sessions I am pleased  to report I am now cancer free.
Psychologically I am a changed person.As my eldest son, who recently went through a coronary by-pass surgery  says,"when you face your own immortality, ever day is a blessing".You know who and  what are your priorities in life.
As I continue to cope with the new limitations placed upon me,I remain grateful that I am able to live a full and meaningful life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

MARCH 7/2018-My Health

Today I received the most positive news a survivor of colon-rectal cancer  can receive. Namely, my most recent CAT scan  was entirely clear.. To say I feel blessed and a sense of spiritual renewal is only to touch the extent of my joy and appreciation.  It has magnified my sense of gratitude and heightened my perception of the joys of life.
Yesterday for example I was able to go X-country skiing. Despite the less than stellar conditions, I was able to experience the terrain and river in  a new way. It felt very similar to the joy that one experiences when a child is born .
I am thankful for the tremendous support I have received from my partner,family and friends who have been there for me in so many ways as I dealt with a period of my life when the results of the CAT scan where not at all certain.
Today,10 days after my Cat Scan, I called my oncologist who had previously given me his private cell number.He answered immediately and told me he would get back to me latter in the day after he had a chance to review my file. Not 30 seconds later I received a call from him confirming the CAT scan was clear. My response"Thank you for making my day: His response " You made my day."
I thanked him profusely for his professional and his most compassion care. It is Doctors like Dr.C.who are a credit to their profession.I feel blessed over the past 2 years to have been seen by highly competent surgeons,GI specialists and various oncologists all of whom have demonstrated  a high degree of skill but perhaps equally as important a sense of compassion,empathy and kindness. I wiil forever be indebted to them.
 Having just recently received this good news how did I sustain myself during this time of uncertainty.Firstly I learned to let go of control and have faith in a higher power. Whatever your personal beliefs or fundamental values it helps to cope when you acknowledge there is a plan for you. Thus in my case I did not believe that I had completed my life mission to help others.
 Secondly, I reached out to others in my community and received a tremendous outpouring of love,emotional and spiritual support.In deciding ,to go public with my illness, I received encouragement,information and support that helped me understand the process  and procedures I needed to cope with. My decision to work through my treatment was the right decision for me as it allowed me a sense of normalcy and structure . It also allowed me to cope by listening and helping others thereby distracting me from my issues.
Thirdly it is important to re-visit your life plans and to make new goals ,consistent with your values and limitations.Facing death, one quickly learns what and who is important to you.Put your energy into the people and issues that matter most to you.
I remain thankful and blessed to be able to continue my life mission to help and emotionally heal my clients.
G-d Bless

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My 72 Birthday

As I reach my 72th B.D. I feel blessed to have reached this milestone.72 is a multiple of the Hebrew number 18(chai), which means "life".18 represents good luck and is often given as a gift in multiples,symbolizing the gift of life or good luck.
 A  traditional blessing that gives thanks to G-d for reaching this age is as follows "Blessed are you Lord our G-d,Ruler of the Universe who has given us life, sustained us and allowed us to reach this day".
During the past year and a half I have had 2 major surgeries for colon rectal cancer as well as receiving 25 radiation treatments.Although at present, I am cancer free ,there is always the possibility of the cancer re-occurring.
 How do I cope with this  uncertainty?Perhaps the best way is to count one's blessings and to live each day as it is your last. Living in the present is easy to say but hardier to do..Each day I try to do something special ,whether it is going on a long walk beside the Ottawa River or  simply enjoying my own private thoughts.
I feel blessed for the emotional support and love I have received from family,friends and my part
 ner. During these difficult times they have been there for me,as have my clients, who have been supportive and understanding as I re--arrange my schedule to accommodate my medical appointments.
 I feel blessed I have survived and continue to enjoy practicing a craft that I truly enjoy and allows me to make a difference in others lives.I feel blessed I continue to travel the world and have many opportunities to be with my family.
Certainty each day I face new challenges and limitations as a result of living with a permanent ostomy. These difficulties have allowed me to be a more patient, understanding and caring person ..I now, truly understand some of the difficulties,challenges living with a disability. . Many of you who do so are my unsung heroes, I have a tremendous respect for your journey.
 Life is a challenge to all of us, much of it is up-hill against the wind, occasionally we enjoy those moments when the wind is behind our sail.We must learn to take advantage of these moments and soar to greater heights.
 I remain,engaged,curious,passionate and hopeful as I look forward to the years ahead.

Monday, July 24, 2017

MY FRIEND HY (1921-2017)

Recently I lost a dear and loved friend. HY, 96 years young, was a charismatic and unique man, who lived  life on his own  terms. His  recent obituary,written by his family, was vetted by HY,many years ago. He made certain that both his family and many friends were mentioned.. I am deeply honoured to be included in that list of friends.
 I first met Hy some 5 years ago when I volunteered with a Jewish agency.Told that they had an elderly man who had requested weekly visits with a volunteer who spoke Yiddish I  quickly volunteered ..Having been raised by a mother who spoke Yiddish to our German maid , I learned  a few basis phrases,( in truth mostly swear words I taught my grandchildren),I decided I was qualified for this assignment.
I arrived at Hy's home , to be met by a short,well groomed man , who seemed much younger than his stated age. He exhibited considerable energy, was highly animated and seem pleased to see me. We sat down in his kitchen, a ritual we followed on many occasions and Hy proceeded to tell me the most interesting stories of his youth on Kent Street, international travels including his beloved love of Bermuda and the Barbados, his incredible accomplishments in the music-recording industries and his brief but intriguing time in the military.I was memorized by this natural born raconteur.
 Later I began to bring  him soup from a local restaurant. A ritual we both enjoyed. On many occasions I went on outings with him to places he visited as a youth.He would introduce me to his friends ,now elderly, like a proud father and tell me stories associated with these places.

As you can surmise I quickly developed a close bond with HY. His irreverence,rebelliousness and don't give a damn attitude resonated with me.We became comfortable with each other and I always looked forward to our weekly encounters.Often times , Hy would pass on his life lessons that I valued greatly.
HY, was a mensch( a honourable man),who had a heart of gold(E.G. adopting his Vietnam family).and incredible love of life.
 Rest in peace.You have lived a long and meaningful life.
Thank you for allowing me to be your friend.