Inspiration and Thanks

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Inspiration and Thanks

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the_candle-555pxFirst published November 13, 2012 on facingcancer.ca

Kate and I had the good fortune to attend the Mirror Ball this past Saturday.  Our friends Sherry Abbott, Mara Bonadie and Chantal Richard also decided to inflict the 750 attendees with a few remarks from yours truly.  While I was a dim light compared to the other entirely inspirational speakers I did appreciate the opportunity to thank the people who make this site and the LGFB program possible.  Thought I’d share a slightly edited version of my remarks here.

Also must mention how wonderful it was to share time with Catherine and her wonderful man Zsolt, Terri, and Alex with her superb husband Mark.  And, what a treat to meet the genuinely awesome Dionne Warner.  You my darling woman are one of a kind!

We are very close to marking the one-year anniversary of Katie’s cancer.  We have some debate in the house about when the actual anniversary is but she’s determined that it is November 30 – the day Dr. Michael Reedijk removed her breast and her cancer at Princess Margaret Hospital.  As I have learned during the past twelve months, while riding shotgun on Katie’s trek – she gets to be right.  So November 30 it shall be.

Reflecting back on the past year it is at once a period that seemed to pass with the swiftness of a shadow while moving as slowly as a slug skating across salt.  I can honestly say that it was a year I wish we could have skipped entirely.

That, of course is impossible and as I have learned from my beautiful young bride we have had the opportunity to learn how to live life in all its fullness, to seize the beauty of each day and acknowledge the fullness of all that life offers.  She did NOT however teach me that during the rigors of chemo nor the burning episodes of radiation nor the dark, fearful nights when ignorance was anything but bliss.

As we’ve wandered through the dark corridors of this journey there have been shafts of light to illuminate our way.  From the hundreds of notes of support we received from Katie’s Karma Corp who are scattered around the world to the heartfelt missives of neighbours and family to many pieces of literature, we have read and heard lessons for a lifetime.  Included among them is a passage by Pearl Buck.  She wrote,

“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being.  His heart withers if it does not answer another heart.  His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.”

When I first came upon the Facing Cancer Together site it was during yet another quest for answers to my endless search for insight into how I could help Katie and yes, help myself.  There is a shocking paucity of information out there for caregivers but with the Facing Cancer site I came upon what appeared to be a community of people willing to engage in helpful, open, honest, and transparent conversation.  Here, I thought, were other hearts.  Here I learned I could find inspiration and escape the sometimes frightful echoes of where the mind will wander.

Without the support of the people and corporations in this room, there are many opportunities to learn that I would have lost.  For that, I thank you.

For enabling conversation.

For facilitating my introduction to some amazing, sharing people such as BothSides, Bumpyboobs, A Fresh Chapter, Bald and Beautiful (and by the way, funny as hell), Cancer Dragon, and FlyingWG.

For bringing brilliant moments of transparency to our quest for plain-spoken and real insight.

For being witness to the remarkable work of Sherry Abbott, Mara Bonadie and my special, committed angel Chantal Richard.

Recently, in my blog Riding Shotgun, I shared an insight that is relevant this evening as we thank those of you who empower sharing and conversation.   The piece was entitled, When Angels Descend and it was written just after our participation in the Run for the Cure.

“I have written many many words about the task of riding shotgun.  About the highs and the lows.  And now that I have witnessed what happens when angels descend to play among us I realize that there are seminal moments in life when self-awareness delivers shocking clarity and perspective.  I encourage all of the caregivers to embrace the battle.  It is a sojourn full or rigour and mighty trials.  One of great and tiny triumphs.  One that will test the human spirit while revealing both the best and worst of our character.  Ultimately though, you will rent the curtain of bleakness and fatigue to find a shining opportunity to live every day as it though it were your last by embracing the wonder that still surrounds us all.  Bless all of you in the battle and special thanks to the remarkable family who have supported us and will continue to share the ride.  You are the angels among us.”

Tonight, I include each of you in that family of angels and thank you for making a very real difference in the lives of people who need your ongoing support.

Finally, I will close with a special note of thanks to my gorgeous wife Katie, my two beautiful sons Samuel and Gabriel and leave you with a quote Kate shared with me recently.  F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote,

“What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon…and the day after that, and the next thirty years?”

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