Thursday, April 30, 2009

Peter's Page

I haven't written in a long time...and I likely will only write one or two more times - and it will only be to talk about our upcoming "Cancerbration" - Diletta, Isabella and I are having a huge picnic party on June 6th at Jackson Park here in Windsor. The party will go from 11am until about 4pm. We will be providing all the food and drink. Also, for all the kids (and a few of my friends) we will be having a bouncy castle, face painting and other fun things for the kids. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is welcome...we just want to know who is coming to ensure that we have enough food.

This party will celebrate my remission, but will also celebrate Isabella's Baptism and my Birthday (June 8th). So once again, everyone is welcome!

Canon Peter Walker is the rector at St. Peter's Church in Cobourg, Ontario - my home town. He we Diletta and I in Italy and is a person that I love and trust. I want to share with you what he recently wrote in the St. Peter's Parish Magazine for Easter. Quoted verbatim:

What my friend Jeff has shown me

I have a friend named Jeff. He is a handsome athletic young man in his early thirties, warm and outgoing. It was my privilege to officiate at his wedding two years ago. Jeff and his beautiful dark-haired wife made a particularly striking couple. They had the world at their feet and everything going for them.

I knew they were eager to be parents. Last year "they" became pregnant and in the fall gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Isabella. Though they live in another part of the country, I get baby pictures regularly sent to me through the internet. To watch the growth of their adorable child (blessed with her mother's dark hair), from newborn to half-year old, delights me.

I relate this story because just at the time Isabella was born, Jeff was diagnosed with a serious cancer. It gobsmacked him. It completely floored his family and friends. How could this trim, fit, healthy young man be so sick? Whatever happened? All the troubling Good Friday questions assailed us: "Why, what evil has he done?" The news sent everyone reeling, me included: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken him?"

I remembered Jesus' words: "Let not your hearts be troubled". But my heart was troubled! The awfulness of this sickness, the unfairness, troubled me deeply. In the French translation of the bible, the Greek word Jesus uses is rendered "bouleverse"; a much better translation I think than "troubled" because it means totally upended, our world turned literally upside down! That's what I felt, overturned.

What must Jeff have felt? I quickly learned.

From the date of his diagnosis Jeff started a blog. He let us follow the course of his treatment and know how he is feeling from day-by-day. It is, I think, his way of dealing with the disease - and helping others far away deal with his dilemma. His chronicle has captivated me. In the raw outpouring of his soul, he speaks to me.

It never occurred to me that Jeff had a particular gift for expression, but he does. He is a born writer, honest, clear, direct. I follow his regular blog entries religiously. They comprise the journey of a soul: a young troubled soul struggling to keep faith, to "hang on" in full process of treatment. I have wept with Jeff from afar and smiled at his baldness. He is truthful about the meaning of his wife's love, the woman who so recently vowed to stand with him "for better or worse," promising to cherish him "in sickness and in health;" he is also truthful about the meaning of his daughter, the infant who so inspires him to further courage.

Jeff's blog reveals a man of deep character. So with countless others I pray for this young man whose life was suddenly 'bouleverse', upended. I pray also for his wife and daughter, for his extended family, for his doctors and nurses, their healing arts, for his friends and caregivers. We all need help to deal with difficult reality!

Jeff's roller-coaster life careens from pathos to bathos, from setback to success. Hanging on for the emotional ride challenging. Yet, in faith, he has hung on. Today I heard 'good news'. In his blog Jeff writes that it was been 161 days from diagnosis to remission. Such joy! Dare I believe it? Dare I allow myself to believe that his hope, faith, and courage is rewarded? Dare I believe that he has returned to his home and family and is gaining fresh strength by the day? Dare I believe that a new day has dawned? These are Easter questions.

For those who dare to hope and believe, for those who keep faith, Easter comes. Not always in the precise way we want it perhaps, but Easter comes. Alleluia!

Peter Walker


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just Pictures....

The ribbon cutting ceremony at the cancer center. The room pictures right below is the main reception area - very nice little area with a fireplace and gran piano.

Diletta, Isabella and I standing in the resource room. We are standing in front of the painting that Dawn Banning donated - very nice!

Check out the progression...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Getting Better

It has been a while since my last writing...and I miss it. But at the same time a part of me wants to stop writing as a way to walk away from cancer. I am a bit torn.

Anyways...things have been going okay. Mentally I am getting a lot better. I find that I am trying to be more positive and I am able to care more for Diletta and Isabella than I have in the past. That does not sound 'right' - but before I was very worried about myself - now that I am not as worried there seems to be more room in my heart and head to think about and care about what really matters...

Physically is a different story...last time I wrote I was taking some time off from physical exercise...I ended up taking a few more days than projected and then I got back into it last Thursday playing squash and I ran out of gas quite quickly. It was a playoff game and after 2 games I was done...he walked over me the next 3. I hate losing. Hate it. But I had nothing left.

After that I went to Chicago with my Wednesday night hockey buddies and we played 3 games, 2 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday - I was wiped and I am still wiped. Crazy.

My biggest problem is that I don't really have a middle ground for physical activity - go hard or go home. I guess I'll have to stick to lower impact sports and activities until I get my wind back.

Last Wednesday my Grandma threw a celebration party for all of her friends ... This was a party to celebrate the fact that I was in remission and also to meet Isabella. There were about 50 women...and me. Needless to say it was GREAT! Everyone loved Isabella!

Finally, today Diletta, Isabella and I went to the cancer center for the opening of the Patient Resource Rooms. There was lots of media and speeches and a cheque presentation from the 'Do Good Divas' who raised $30,000 for the rooms and new pager system being implemented.

The final amount we ended up giving to the cancer centre is about $8,700 - I am very proud of this and so should everyone who helped me do this. There were about 100 books in the book shelves and a ton more are on order. In addition, they are taking lists of books to the doctors and nurses to get opinions as to whether or not they should be purchased.

I'll post some pictures later and maybe some new videos...