Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A hero of mine

Living through a breast cancer experience does not make you a hero. How you deal with cancer, and how you let it affect your life and the lives of those around you is what makes you a hero. Lindsay MacPhee is a hero of mine.

I first met Lindsay in the late spring of 2008 when I went to Winnipeg to attend the World Conference on Breast Cancer. I think there were over 600 of us there and, in particular, I was struck by how many young women had already battled this killer disease. I had been 45 when I faced it the first time and I remember thinking "I am too young to have breast cancer." At this conference I saw women far too young....... Lindsay and I made a connection as the saying goes. We kept in touch. I wrote about her in my last book. We reach out to each other and have become friends.

One of the many things we share is our love of LouisV (if you don't know Louis' last name the pictures will fill you in.......)

In October Lindsay wrote to tell me that she and her mother had been on the trip of a lifetime together. They celebrated her mom's 60th and Lindsay's five year cancer free mark. A celebration indeed! They were in Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) as well as to Switzerland, Germany, Paris and London to name just a few of their stops.
While having dinner at the Eiffel Tower to celebrate her mom's birthday Lindsay gave her a white gold and diamond pendant of the Eiffel Tower. Her mom gave Lindsay an envelope from her husband and written on the front of the envelope was "Do not open until Paris." I won't share the entire letter with you because that is Lindsay's story to share (she will write a book one day I hope!) but he did tell her to buy the bag of her dreams. He told her to go to the LouisV store and try on every bag until she found the one that "fit." When Lindsay shared with the staff her story behind this purchase out came the champagne. She left the store with her bag and a new fresh start and lease on life. "I am so thankful for breathing" she wrote.

This attitude is what makes Lindsay my hero.

I will get to Ottawa to visit you one of these days Lindsay and I really want to meet that husband of yours!


Carol Ann

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reflections of Christmas past - 2009

Hi there - we had our first bit of snow here in Toronto yesterday. The first snowfall was always my mother's favourite time of year. December will be such a busy time for everyone. My sisters and I have a tradition of opening gifts early - and often! I pass the idea on as often as I can. Last weekend we gave Jalen his first gift because, after all, we were en route to the Santa Claus parade so what better time of year to open a gift yes?

I will be helping Jalen and his parents decorate their tree shortly and the thought takes me back to last year when we decorated a Christmas tree in their brand new home - the move from Barrie to Midhurst took them to their dream home (for now - they are real estate agents after all.)
Jalen worked on his Christmas cards on his own last year and as you can see rather than say "Nana" he wrote my name in my card. Grandchildren are such a joy and always full of surprises.

Enjoy December - and thanks for being in touch.
Carol Ann

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CTS Television System - Interview to air on Monday

For someone living in downtown Toronto making the trip to Burlington is a very LONG trip. Well, perhaps not for the average person but for me Burlington is not a city (is it a city?) that I frequent often. Today was an exception - plus I was driven too and from which made my day.

"Always Good News" is a daily national TV program, showcasing ordinary people - today that person was me. The show is hosted by broadcast vetern Connie Smith and the interview was over before I knew it. Connie and those around her are all very professional. The show was taped and will air next week.

Why am I telling you this? Not because I got to talk about myself one more time (some of you are thinking that yes? That's okay because it's true the media has been kind to me.) I am sharing this news with you because today, for the first time in an interview, I had the opportunity to talk about our writing program at the Good Neighbours' Club in Toronto. I even got to mention Louis, Tim, Carmin and Brian - briefly but that is okay. I hope it makes them smile when they hear their name because I am so proud of what they are trying to do.

The interview is brief - minutes only - and will air Monday November 29th at 9 30 am and again at 1 pm. Nationally if you are will Bell it will be on channel 651 and Nationally if you are with Star Choice check channel 355. If these options don't work for you, go to www.ctstv.com and check the channel for your city or town.

After Thursday December 2nd you will also be able to find the interview at www.alwaysgoodnews.ca

And finally, if any of my friends live in Burlington, it's not that far away really - for you.

Now, I really do need to wash this I-am-ready-for-my-TV-interview make-up off my face.

Have a good evening.

Carol Ann

Monday, November 22, 2010

Volunteer outside of the box if you can...

We all volunteer if and when we can. This year, back in January, I began volunteering at the Good Neighbours' Club here in Toronto (GNC.) In some ways I did this for selfish reasons. All of my volunteer work to date had been within the cancer community. I needed to think outside of the box and for me that meant giving time to an organization that I was less familiar with. GNC is a day shelter for homeless and/or unemployeed men over 50. Some of the members are quick to point out that I should always say "currently" homeless and/or unemployed because many of them do get back on their feet and back into society with a home and sometimes even a job. I agree. I have met a number of members who were there every day until they found a shelter of their own - their own little home even if it is one room. It belongs to them and it is their home.

I spend each Wednesday morning at GNC and they know me as their "Writer in Residence." When we first met we worked on letters to our Canadian soldiers, then I wrote stories about individuals when they asked me to do so. Now, a number of members are working on their own story - possibly their own book -and I help them by editing their work and offering comments each week when we sit down together. A number of the members have a computer or have access to the computers available at the Club. This enables us to work via e-mail so we don't have to wait until Wednesday mornings.

If you live in Toronto, or if you read the Toronto Star you know Joe Fiorito. Joe is a champion of the little guy and he is a great friend of the Club. I met Joe at GNC a few months ago and to this day the members still talk about meeting him that day. They quote him (not always accurately but I don't think Joe would mind.) Joe wrote a great article after being with the members and having a tour of the Club and that article was a greater gift than you can imagine. These men deserve to be acknowledged, listened to and helped - they get that from people like Joe Fiorito.

I guess my reason for writing about GNC this morning is to ask all of you to consider, maybe starting in the New Year, to volunteer outside of the box. Believe, me you will get as much out of it as those you are able to help. Look around your own community, your small corner of the world and find a way to give back - your way.

Something else promoted me to write to you this morning. I just read a wonderful addition to a story one of the members is working on for his own book. Louis e-mailed it to me over the weekend and his writing is good - very good. I am actually confident we will be able to find a publisher for his story. If politics don't get in the way.

You have a good week and thanks for being in touch.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One more of Jalen James at the parade Nov 21st

Jalen is growing up so fast. He is six years old now and awaiting the birth of his baby sister in mid January. He talks about her often and is already looking out for her!

Santa Claus Parade

I could write a million words about today's Santa Claus parade but instead will share three pictures that say it all - These are "the men in my life - plus Tracey!"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Disco Gene Bisogno!

We all know someone who can throw the perfect party yes? My friends Clare and Gene not only throw the best party but they throw the best theme party as well. To celebrate Gene's big 60th we were all invited to their Disco theme party. You will see a disco ball, disco floor lights, lots of gold chains and even more wigs from the Disco-hair-days. And of course, there is Clare with her pink Disco boots and all the glitter that is Clare!
Gene, Happy Birthday my friend - and thanks to you and Clare for always including me!
Carol Ann

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mavillette Beach in Nova Scotia

The most beautiful beach on earth is, in my humble opinion, Mavillette Beach near Yarmouth Nova Scotia. This beach is not well known, even to the locals, and perhaps that is one of the charms it holds for those of us who love it so much. I just read an e-mail from a friend who lives near Mavillette - even the scenery from Cape Ste Mary Road, which is kind of at the "working man's" end of the beach is beautiful.

If you have not been to Mavillette, put it on your bucket list and go. You won't be sorry. (I can give you detailed info re how to get there and even where to stay if you like.)

Have a great weekend. (My friend Gene is turning 60 and his wife is throwing a Disco Theme party for him so if I get any pictures will post them here next week.)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Before e-mail we called it "IIS" (at Bell that is)

Last week I attended Pete Renshaw's second retirement party - yes his second retirement party. So popular is Pete that a "Part Deux" as Nick called it was arranged for those of us who were unable to attend his official retirement from Bell Canada several months ago.
Having retired myself way back in 1994 it is always very humbling to be remembered when someone from my former team retires and a party is being planned. Walking in and seeing all the guys took me back to my VP days at Bell when I first worked with a team we called Ontario South soon to be combined with Metro. For you non-Bell readers that means the 905 and 416 area codes....circa 1989-1993 for me. We always think in terms of area codes!
The pictures above - and thanks to Linda for taking them and sharing with me. Top left picture - Scott who is Pete's son /Tony in the picture on top right. Next is Pete and Nick/and Lou and Brian. Finally, in the bottom picture - Bill, Mike, Cliff and Pete.
I was totally surprised to see Tony. I knew he had been critically ill not all that long ago - literally he could have died - and here he was with his peers as if nothing had happened. I was impressed with young Scott and suspect he has a promising career ahead of him (and a new condo to!) I could say nice things about everyone pictured here and everyone we didn't get a picture of (like Gary who gave me my first tour of a manhole and introduced me to life underground. He actually remembers what I was wearing that day and I am sure it was sometime in 1989!) I really like Pete's wife Brenda - she joined us and we found a quiet moment to talk about our kids and how proud we are of all they have and will accomplish. It's always about more than Bell.
When I moved to the Installation and Repair department in 1981 and first met some of these men I was nervous, anxious and so eager to learn and do a good job. Thanks to the team around me I was able to shine - and when I returned some years later as their Vice President they were quick to say, "We are not surprised -we taught her everything she knows!" And, they were absolutely right. They deserve all the credit...well not all the credit but you know what I mean.
We talked about old times, we talked about Ma Bell today and how she has changed, we shared a beer (or two) and we parted promising to keep in touch. We will.
Carol Ann

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jalen the Vampire!

Thanks for the pictures of you children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours taken on Sunday evening.............. you can't really tell in pictures but Jalen definitely had the Vampire teeth (which is why he could not close his mouth perhaps?)

Can you guess what he was last year from the photo on the left??

Monday, November 1, 2010

Body, Mind and Spirit

This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at CBCN's Body, Mind and Spirit conference here in Toronto. A National conference for young women living with breast cancer brought together some wonderful women - as I looked out at the audience facing me I was struck by the youth of these women. They are far too young to have battled (and beaten) this killer disease already. Breast cancer isn't particular - it picks on all ages. The star of the conference was Bif Naked who shared her "Rock your Cancer" story and I didn't even try to compete with her!!

I spoke with Barb Thompson who works with Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia http://www.bcans.ca/ and we tried to remember the last time we saw each other - life moves too fast.

I spent time with Cheryl and Shauna who are in this picture with me. Cheryl and I met in October at the Sydney CBCF breakfast and Shauna and I met a few years ago at the World Conference on Breast Cancer in Winnipeg. If you have my last book you can go to page 99 and read Shauna's chapter - written by her - called Shauna Marie MacLean and her Red Shoes.

Cheryl is one hard working young lady and CBCF Atlantic can be very proud of her. At the end of the conference as she packed up her posters and everything she had brought with her she wondered if she could walk rather than take a cab to the foot of Yonge St (heading to Porter Airlines.) I love her spirit and her positive attitude is outstanding.

Shauna and I are both breast cancer survivors, both have one son and each time we talk we realize we have more and more in common. We spent a quiet hour together Sunday morning catching up and I suspect our bond is even stronger because of our last conversation.

So, October is over - and so is my month of working in the breast cancer world. I tend to give much of my time and energy away in October and this year I may have over done it. I seldom slept in my own bed and while I loved every second of it I am glad it is behind me.

Have a great November and I will be back here again soon to share a wonderful evening I had recently with the "boys (and two girls) from my Bell days." Having been retired from Bell since 1994 it was such a treat to attend Pete Renshaw's second retirement party and catch up with so many of the old gang - and I say that in the kindest way.


Carol Ann