Alterations and adaptive clothing

LogoDo you ever buy something that doesn’t fit exactly the way you like and then take it to a tailor for alterations? Sometimes a simple nip or tuck can make a big difference. I’m thankful for the sewing skills my mother taught me that enable me to do that kind of thing for myself.

Here’s a video that puts simple alterations like shortening a pair of pants into perspective. Josh Sundquist is an American paralympic ski racer, a bestselling author and motivational speaker, and a childhood cancer survivor. He also has a wonderful sense of humour. Regardless of what you think of the Tommy Hilfiger brand, Josh has some very important things to say. Please take a few minutes to watch and then let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

 

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High heels? Yes or no?

LogoThere are very few topics that could be tagged Fashion, Health, and Politics, but today’s post will focus on one of them. I have very few positive things to say about our provincial government, but I do commend them for one recent decision. On January 1, 2019, changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Code will take effect banning mandatory footwear rules that pose health and safety risks to Alberta workers, particularly those in the hospitality industry.

“Mandatory high heel policies that can put workers at risks for slips, trips and falls and can become a workplace hazard are no longer acceptable,” Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray announced recently. “We’re doing this after hearing from so many Albertans and workers who have had detrimental effects to having to work an eight-hour shift in high heels.” The new ruling isn’t about banning high heels; it’s about giving women the choice of whether to wear them or not.

Since I’m significantly taller than my husband and I’ve always put comfort ahead of appearance, I seldom wear anything higher than a kitten heel. After reading about the toll that wearing high heels regularly can have on the spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet, I’m glad that I never got into the habit. Take a look at this graphic from the Florida Hospital Medical Group Spine Health Institute to see what I’m referring to.

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 9.15.41 PMLooking at the two profiles, it’s easy to see why men in particular tend to favour women in high heels, but is the increase in sex appeal worth the damage that they cause?

Studies have shown that by limiting the natural motion of the foot during walking, high heels can cause increased stress on the knees and may even contribute to osteoarthritis later in life. Similarly, if high heels are worn constantly, the spine’s ability to absorb shock can result in continued back pain. The vertebrae of the lower back may be compressed and back muscles over stressed. Wearing high heels too frequently can also cause the calf muscle to stiffen and the Achilles tendon to shorten which can actually make wearing flatter shoes uncomfortable. By putting a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot and forcing the toes into a small toe box, high heels can cause or worsen many foot problems including corns, hammertoe, bunions, Morton’s neuroma and plantar fasciitis.

Does all this mean that women should never wear high heels? Not at all. Worn in moderation, for special occasions as opposed to every day, they are unlikely to cause any long-term physical health problems. So wear them to your upcoming Christmas parties if you like, just don’t wear them to work every day. On the other hand, there are so many cute flats available these days that you might not want to wear them at all!

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Clothing ourselves for Christmas and always

LogoFor me, fashion is a hobby, not a passion. I definitely want to look my best and I have fun putting together the outfits I wear, but I’m more concerned with who I am as a person than what I look like. The Bible speaks of this in Colossians 3:12 where it says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Verse 14 of the same chapter says “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

These thoughts seem particularly appropriate as we approach the busy Christmas season. There are lots of ways to show compassion and kindness at this time of year, whether it be making a donation to your local food bank or filling a shoebox for an underprivileged child, but what about patience? That can be a tough one, especially when you’re trying to navigate a busy shopping mall or you find yourself caught in the slowest line at Walmart while the harried cashier waits on a price check.

One of the ways that I try to deal with the busyness of the Christmas season without losing patience is to plan ahead. I’m almost completely finished my Christmas shopping and while I’m stuck at home over the next few days, I plan to decorate and do some Christmas baking. I’ve also made a list of the various Christmas events that we’ll be taking part in during December and I’ll be shopping my closet to put together outfits and accessories for each one. That way, when it comes time to dress for each event, I won’t have the stress of trying to figure out what to wear. Instead, I’ll be in the right frame of mind to put on the qualities of He whose birth we celebrate at Christmas!

Colossians 3;12-14

 

Radioactive again

10991307_10153055708750915_6654881605691342497_nI had my 11th PRRT treatment on Monday and once again I’m too radioactive to be in close contact with other people. For a week following each treatment I spend most of my time at home. I sleep in the guest room, have my own bathroom, and stay at least a few feet away from Richard at all times.

There’s nothing funny about cancer and high doses of radiation, but sometimes you just have to laugh. I pose a particularly high risk to pregnant women and children, but since there’s no chance of running into any of them at our weekly senior’s bowling league, I played yesterday but sat apart from the rest of the bowlers. There were some who knew exactly why, but others who were curious. One jovial fellow, noticing that I was sitting alone, commented, “I see you’re sitting back there with all your friends!” I hope he didn’t feel bad when he found out why I was keeping my distance. I thought his comment was funny! Then there are invariably questions about whether or not I glow in the dark! (I don’t) One friend laughed and said I must be a night light! I told him that that must be the reason that I’m not allowed to sleep with Richard! The glow would keep him awake.

In all seriousness though, I have scans the morning after each treatment to determine whether or not there has been any change to my tumours. In the past, I’ve been able to sit down with a doctor immediately afterward to discuss the results, but this time was different. Dr Sandy McEwan, head of the clinical trial that I’ve been part of since 2014 and the driving force behind bringing state of the art NET cancer treatment to Edmonton, has left the program. While I’m sad for myself and the rest of his patients, I’m happy for him that he has been able to relocate to Toronto where he will be closer to family. I knew a couple of years ago when he proudly told me that he’d become a grandpa that that day might come! His departure means that there isn’t time for the remaining doctor to meet with every patient both before their treatment and after their scans. That meant that this time I came home not knowing what they showed. While I was still able to laugh yesterday, the question was there in the back of my mind. Was this the time that the news would be bad?

Thankfully, I wasn’t kept wondering very long. I chatted with one of the program nurses this morning and once again I heard that word that I’ve come to love; stable! There has been no change! Praise the Lord!

Can I wear it 3 ways?

LogoI frequently drop into our local thrift stores in search of used books, but invariably the clothing beckons and I have to take a look! I’ve been more disciplined in recent months, buying less and not filling my closet with impulse buys simply because the prices are irresistible. I’ve accomplished that by asking myself one simple question: Can I wear this at least 3 different ways with items that I already have in my closet? If so, it will probably be a good purchase. This doesn’t work for something like a special occasion dress, but it’s a good rule of thumb for most other wardrobe purchases, new or used.

On my most recent foray into a second hand store, this blouse caught my eye.

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Could I style it 3 ways? Easily! It’s light and airy, so I could immediately visualize myself wearing it with capris next summer or perhaps sooner if we take a winter holiday to somewhere warm. It’s also long enough to wear over leggings or skinny jeans with some of my winter sweaters including the Prep Pullover that I showed you a couple of weeks ago. I decided to try it on.

On the way to the fitting room, I spotted this.

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A plain white cotton t-shirt dress. Could I style it 3 ways? I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be a great layering piece and that it might actually look good under the black and white blouse.

What do you think?

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Even though I might have broken my 3 ways rule with the white top, both pieces came home with me and here I am wearing them with my light grey High Skinny jeans from cabi and a pair of black booties that were also purchased second hand.

Show yourself a little love

LogoI’m easily frustrated by the messages that advertising and social media give women about their bodies. Perhaps that’s why I was so moved by a poem that I ran across this week. Written by Hollie Holden, it first appeared on her Notes on Living & Loving Facebook page in June 2016.

Today I asked my body what she needed, 
Which is a big deal 
Considering my journey of 
Not Really Asking That Much.

I thought she might need more water. 
Or protein. 
Or greens. 
Or yoga. 
Or supplements. 
Or movement.

But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks, 
Her roundness where I would like flatness, 
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditioned wishes 
That form a bundle of 
Never-Quite-Right-Ness, 
She whispered very gently:

Could you just love me like this?

Do you stand in front of the mirror and find fault with what you see? If so, I would urge you to stop being so hard on yourself. Take a few minutes and think about all the amazing things that your imperfect body can do! Think of it as a tool that can help you live life to your full potential. Listen to it, honour what it needs, treat yourself to a healthy lifestyle, but don’t beat yourself up over minor imperfections or natural signs of aging. Life is hard enough, without being at war with your own body!

Advertising seldom presents natural healthy bodies. It sets us up for disappointment, so it’s up to us to ignore the nonsense and aim for something more realistic. Doing anything less convinces us that we’re not good enough, that we’re not what we ought to be, and disrespects the amazing bodies that we’ve been gifted with.

We can have a closet full of beautiful clothes but if we don’t love the body that we’re putting them on, we’ll never be truly happy with how we look. Don’t let unrealistic expectations rob you of joy! Show yourself a little love today!

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NET Cancer Day 2018

November 10 is World NET Cancer Day, a day set aside to raise awareness of neuroendocrine cancer, the disease that I’ve been fighting since 2013.

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Neuroendocrine (NET) tumours can arise in any organ that contains neuroendocrine cells including the stomach, intestines, lungs, liver, pancreas and appendix. While most commonly found in people over the age of 60, NET cancer can affect both men and women of any age. Though NETs is the fastest growing class of cancers worldwide, the symptoms are usually vague and similar to more common health conditions. As a result, NETs is frequently misdiagnosed as anxiety, menopause, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), asthma, or diabetes.

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Compared to most cancers, NETs is slow growing. It was estimated that I’d already had the disease for ten years when it was detected. I had been experiencing many of the common symptoms which include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, flushing of the skin, pounding of the heart, and wheezing or shortness of breath off and on for at least seven or eight years . Neither I nor my family doctor had any idea why. Like many general practitioners, he had never encountered a NETs patient before.

Almost 50% of patients visit a doctor 5 or more times before receiving a correct diagnosis! A recent study found that 58% of patients have advanced stage neuroendocrine cancer by the time they are correctly diagnosed. There is currently no cure for the majority of NET cancer patients, including me. Neuroendocrine cancers are complex and unpredictable. Once diagnosed, they require an expert and experienced multidisciplinary team of health care professionals to ensure the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, many patients, even in the world’s most developed countries, have difficulty accessing that kind of care.

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So what’s with the zebra? Everyone recognizes the ubiquitous pink ribbon as a symbol of breast cancer, but not all cancers are pink. Medical students are taught when hearing hoofbeats, to think of horses, not zebras, so the zebra was chosen as symbol of our lesser known disease. There are some patients and advocates who think it’s silly and would like to see us stop using it, but I think we need to take advantage of every opportunity to draw attention to our cause and if that includes zebra stripes, I’m all for it.

What can you do to help? You can help us spread awareness by simply reposting this on your blog if you have one or posting a link to it on your Facebook page. My fellow zebras and I thank you!