Sweet Words

“NO CANCER”, said the Doctor. A thumbs up, (and a few tears), between my husband andClose up seagull:clouds I as we marked this delicious moment in time. The results of the multiple biopsies and surgery is definitive, how sweet it is. In that instant a 1000 pounds of weight lifted off of our shoulders, and I felt the crispness of my soul. It’s the first day of the rest of my life, again…

My healing is humming along nicely. I’m marching to the beat of the recovery drum, and my spirit is soaring.

I would like to extend a thank you to all of you. You gave us your prayers, words of encouragement, generous offers, and actions of support throughout this challenging time.

THANK YOU, WE ARE IN GRATITUDE

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“Cut It Out!”

Once again we’ve pulled into the hospital parking lot. The grey and stone sanctuary of Intervenusthe ill is looming ahead of us. The enemy is inside and its time to cut it out! Pondering over the past several months, I must admit, it’s been a summer of stress, joy, adventure, passion, and worry. Aestas horribilis.

Looking back, it was in July that I attended my annual mammogram at this same hospital. I am already a survivor, for 40 years I have sat on pins and needles after each mammogram, only to be delighted at the sound of a wonderful voice say, “All Clear”. This time would be different, the phone rang and the dreaded, “Call Back”, seemed to screech into my ear. As July progressed I attended a 2nd mammogram appointment. Then, there was an ultra sound, and yes, two masses were confirmed. A biopsy followed. August I attended my follow-up appointment with the Doctor. At this time I was told surgery was required.

It’s now September and so, here we are once again moving along the concrete walkway leading to the sliding doors. As I held my husband Mark’s hand, I noticed the windows reflected a brilliant rising sun. Was this an omen of things to come?

Preparing for surgery, I was compassionately cared for by the hospital staff. I was then wheeled into the operating theatre. On the stage of this cold and stark theatre humming with the sounds of monitoring machines was a team of professionals moving about collaboratively performing with purpose. They were the stars of the show, I was their audience. During my drug induced slumber the, “Cut It Out” climax came and went. Although a daunting experience for me, I accepted what we were all here in the theatre to do.

I have battle wounds. They are my badges of survival. This new scar is horrifying and delightful. I can once again delight in the joy of seeing another brilliant sunrise, horrified for the upcoming biopsy results I’m expecting in October. Delighted that I again have the chance to laugh, joke, and cause mischief.

Words are powerful tools, Words have the power to tear down or build people up. Thank you to all of you who expressed loving thoughts through your words of encouragement. Your heartfelt messages of support have sustained me throughout my recovery.

I am in gratitude!

Bouquet of Flowers

Author by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Question and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

A Life Unfolding As It Will

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, as to have the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell (American Professor of Literature) Clouds

I hadn’t planned on this. I’ve already been pulled back from the almost dead. Isn’t that enough for one life time? I’m already a survivor after all!

These were the thoughts running through my mind as I pulled into the hospital parking lot. That grey and stone sanctuary of the ill. Just this past July 2018, I had attended my annual mammogram at the High Risk clinic. Lurking in the recesses of my mind was the memory of the masses that grew in my chest nearly 40 years ago. After surgery, my heart had swelled with gratitude that I was now a survivor. I was all clear! Back then, I had been warned of the dangers. I guess a survivor is never home free.

Obviously the mammogram procedure this July was successful, all medical values, standards, professionals, and equipment up to scratch. After the almost 40 years of “All Clear”, I got the dreaded “call back”.

A second mammogram, and an ultra sound later, yes, there are 2 masses confirmed. They are in the same exact location as the nasty ones of old, snuggled deep in my chest just above my heart. How ironic is that!

Within a week I was in a hospital room with a Doctor and two nurses undergoing a biopsy, which should have taken about 30 to 40 minutes, and in the end took a couple of hours. Those two masses have strategically placed themselves so deep in my chest that there was a concern of inadvertently piercing my lung. I had once been told, “You’re weird and God hates you”, at this same hospital 8 years ago, (7 months before my life sustaining ostomy was created), by the attending Physician who was frustrated due to the fact that he could not find the source of my ailment. These words flooded back to me as I lay awkwardly while the biopsy was performed. “Maybe that Doctor 8 years ago was right,” I thought.

With the biopsy behind me, I had to wait 4 weeks to finally attend the follow-up appointment to receive the results of the biopsy. It sure has felt like four of the longest summer weeks of my life!

So here I am pulling into the hospital parking lot again, on my way to the results appointment. After I parked the car, I then moved along the concrete walkway leading to the sliding doors. As I took each step I noticed the windows reflected the bank of clouds gathering on the horizon behind me. Was this an omen of things to come?

I gazed up and down, and right to left as I pressed on to the entrance. The voice in my mind was strong, clear, and penetrating, and it asked; “what will she say, and how will I react?”

When I arrived at her office and sat myself down, emotion overwhelmed me, and in walked my Doctor and her assistant.

With an ear to ear smile on her face she said, “We found it and we got it in time. The cells are abnormal, but they are not malignant at this time. We need to remove the lumps as soon as possible. The not so good news is, we have to do surgery. My assistant will call you after the long weekend…”

A surge of emotion overwhelmed me once again. This time the strong, clear, and penetrating voice in my mind screamed. “Thank you!” And, for a moment I’m sure I felt my heart swell with gratitude. After my first bout with malignancy I had planned that there would be no more of this nonsense. After my multi-year debilitating illness that climaxed with near death, and the creation of Percy Stoma, I had planned, that there would be no more of this nonsense.

Well, no more plans for me for a while! I think I will simply live the moments. I will take each day as it comes. I will live it to the fullest, as my interesting life unfolds as it will. Well, for the next little while anyway.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back tojoannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

It’s Our Stomaversary

Tunnel of LightIts time to celebrate and to reflect. The journey on the gurney began 7 years ago today. I had an estimated 1 hour to live. As I laid in pain and I wondered if my body was beyond fair repair, I could have just let go and stepped gentle unto death. If I could, I would have just gathered myself and flee. Flee to the mystical void.

But I couldn’t. And so, my thoughts turned purely for the sake of survival.  Although daunting with no guarantee, I rejected failure. Failure was no longer an option in this game to survive. I knew in those moments this decision would not be easy.

I embarked on the white-knuckle challenge. Together with my winning team, consisting of me, my doctors, the nurses, and my beloved husband Mark, survival became our only goal. Although I didn’t fully know what was at stake, I decided I would find a way to heal.

During the almost 8 hour marathon surgery, my amazing stoma buddy Percy was created. In those moments I became an ostomate, and I now sport my permanent ostomy with joy and pride.

The passing years since certainly have left their marks on Percy and I, with wounds and scars. There have been and will be, the feelings that storms with the destructive elements of fire and water, will continue to claw at us with the ongoing realities all ostomates must endure daily, monthly, and yearly.

And yet, this is our sequel. Our second chance at life. We are survivors. We carry on. We have brushed ourselves off and we hold our heads high.

Without fail, every year on that special stomaversary day, we celebrate and reflect once again. Happy Stomaversary Percy Stoma. Thank you for my continued survival. Our goal has been achieved. We are successful!

Happy Stomaversary to you too Jo-Ann. Life goes on, and so are we!

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

&

Percy Stoma

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request be our guest. We want o help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, Preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

8 Bursts of Glow

Burst of GlowImagine creating something that never existed before. How wondrous! Its pure delight on every level, and in every dimension. 8 – that’s the number of grandchildren we have now. Our darling 8th burst of glow was born June, 13th, 2018.

I’ve said many times, “If we had to do it all over again, we’d probably have our grandchildren first.” As an ostomate, and I’m sure others feel the same, we have a 2nd chance at life. We have another opportunity to embrace the joy and trials of experiencing our lives as it unfolds.

8 is often referred as the number of abundance and power. Number 8 is a very lucky number in China. The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in China began on 8/8/08, at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 p.m. The number 8 is the atomic number of oxygen. For our family, we feel our bursts of glow are 8 deep breaths of fresh air, and we sure feel powerfully abundant.

Welcome little one to this beautiful planet and to your time here. May you be powerful, abundant, and lucky in all ways as you live your life to the fullest.

And, may all the little one’s on our planet today know they are amazing creations, and are our gifts no matter who they are or where they live. They are the bursts of glow that illuminate each and every day. May we treasure them, do our best to make our world a safe place for them to flourish, grow, and pass on the wisdom of the ages to their children.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

Life Goes On…

I felt as if my life and myself as I knew it was being erased. My hands were shaking and my bottom lip trembled. I was told to do this and to do that. I had no choice. Another White Feathertragedy had happened, and my life seemed to have fallen short, again!

When I awakened from life saving surgery, once again I faced the interesting conundrum called, “Life Change”. Do I go along for the ride, not ask questions, not share the truth of my pain and confusion, as I stay in quiet desperation? Do I let this situation limit me, as I mourn what could have been, if things would have just stayed the same? Or, do I let go of the fantasy, that dream I had of my life, and at least make peace with the past. Let’s face it, I can’t go back to what I had.

I know this surreal place, the place where my current life intersects with my future me, and life. The crossroads where once again I am challenged to reevaluate and rebuild myself, and life again. Something I call recovery. I know it. It is a familiar place, I’ve been here too many times in my life. I buried my child, I buried a life partner of over 30 years, my only living child lives with an incurable disease. I was challenged to live with the illness that eventually led up to the creation of a life altering change, my permanent ostomy. Yes, I know this place.

When someone, or life treats us poorly, our natural response is to feel anger. If we hold onto anger/resentment from the individual/event, and take that into our future, there are dire consequences. Usually the consequences are at best a diminished life experience. At worst, we eliminate our ability to shift, evolve, and change over time.

Woe is me. Life’s not fair! Why me? For most of us it’s easy to be motivated by negative emotions. We all know this place too. Change is a hard challenge, especially ones we had little to no control over in the first place.

So, we can embrace, “why me”, and hope the passage of time will heal us. Or, we can use the time to recover. I say recover because there are some tragedies we just can’t consistently pack away neatly in the past and be done and over with. It’s just not truthful and realistic for me not to feel, in the depths of my being the bitter/sweet of Mother’s Day.

The viable goal becomes: long-term and sustainable change. Real change needs a positive platform to launch from. In my experiences, this is based on my desire to instruct and improve myself and life. This approach is strengthened by my desire to be caring and compassionate with myself. Self-care and compassion facilitates the recovery process. And finally, the platform supports my belief that when I grow as a person and have learned something to move my life forward, then the life changing challenge has served the purpose of bringing me closer to my meaningful success. My recovery process has continued.

I have not and never will take the changes I make as I recover all at once. Instead, I start somewhere, take measurable actions, (most of them small and specific). Then as life unfolds as it will, when a person, and event or a situation shows up in my life, I simply continue to march to the beat of my recovery drum.

When the next life change shows up in my life, and I am sure it will, I will once again feel myself and my life being erased. My hands will shake and my bottom lip will tremble. I will again find the ways and means to recover and grow as a person, as I navigate the recovery path. I will march ahead to learn something that will move my life forward. Then, this change will have served a purpose. And so, life goes on…

Author by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and our reprint/republish request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com. Click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.

A Secret Door

DoorBehind the thin decorative covering of our clothes and outward facade, there is a secret door. This door is the gateway to the fascinating world of our internal physical, emotional, intellectual and human spirit, our inner universe.

It just so happens we ostomates, have had a true life/death defying experience, and we have survived. This experience, and the creation of our secret door has impacted us in all ways possible. We will never be the same again.

During the time leading up to the creation of our secret door, we were ill, and this presented us with health issues that seriously affected our lives. Then, our secret door was created. We were impacted externally and internally, and our lives have been changed forever. When the door was opened we began a new chapter of our life story. A chapter that is often a physical, emotional, and social dichotomy of good and not so good, consequences.

In the years since I became an ostomate and through my Ostomy Canada Society volunteer responsibilities, ostomy support groups, social media forums, Ostomy Factor Blog and my website, so many people have shared their stories of personal experiences.

Through our shared stories we participate in camaraderie, experiences and understandings, that offer all of us clues to the inter-connectedness of all people, ostomate and non-ostomate alike. This is a source for food for thought, and of inspiration.

We share common experiences. Some of us are a parent, a friend, a co-worker, a child, a sister, a brother… We are part of a greater whole on this planet, and in this universe of universes.

As the events of our lives unfold, through the secret door, we internalize and we externalize. There are wondrous possibilities available in both the inside and on the outside. We can take the opportunity to incorporate these potentials in our everyday lives.

Life in reality for everyone is complex, and filled with events, issues, and perceptions. There are no simple or all encompassing solutions. Yet, as ostomates through our physical secret door, we have been gifted with not only continued survival, but with a symbolic representation of a gateway to life’s quantity and quality of life.

Behind the thin decorative coverings, there is a secret door. It is the opening created to give us a new way to eliminate what no longer serves us. It is the threshold to boundless energy, potential, and possibility, all of which we can use for expressing our unique individuality, as we navigate through our 2nd chance at life.

We can perceive the door as closed, and so, we become limited and prevented. Or, we can perceive the door as the opening to potential and possibility. Each of us faces a choice, we hold the key. We can turn back and be defeated by this barrier, or we can push on and step forward into the wondrously something new.

Authored by:

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Percy Stoma

Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Are you interested in reprinting or republishing this blog? With your written request, be our guest. We want to help connect people with the information they need. We just ask that you link back to joannltremblay.wordpress.com, preserve the author’s byline and refrain from making edits that alter the original context. Questions and your reprint/republishing request(s) go to: www.jo-annltremblay.com, click on the “contact” page, and fill out the contact form.