Canada’s going black and white for NET Cancer Day!

November 10 is World NET Cancer Day, a day set aside to raise awareness of neuroendocrine cancer, the uncommon disease that I’ve been fighting for the past six years. It’s our day to be heard by decision makers, health professionals and the general public. In addition to raising awareness, we want to encourage more funds for research, treatments, and patient support; and to advocate for equal access to care and treatment for NETS patients around the world.

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Zebra stripes symbolize how this rare cancer can go undetected for many years. Medical students are taught when hearing hoofbeats, to think of horses, not zebras. Neuroendocrine tumours are difficult to diagnose. Though they are the fastest growing class of cancers worldwide, their symptoms are usually vague and similar to more common health problems.  Many family doctors have never encountered a NETs patient. When presented with symptoms like stomach pain and diarrhea, they naturally think of things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease or lactose intolerance. They think of horses, not zebras. As a result, NETs is frequently misdiagnosed.

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It would appear, however, that through the tireless efforts of NETs patients and advocates, we’re beginning to be heard. This year on November 10, the following landmarks across Canada are lighting up in black and white for NET Cancer Day!

  • City Hall  –  Vancouver, British Columbia
  • High Level Bridge  –  Edmonton, Alberta
  • Calgary Tower  –  Calgary, Alberta
  • City Hall  –  Lethbridge, Alberta
  • CN Tower  –  Toronto, Ontario
  • City Hall Towers  –  Toronto, Ontario
  • Niagara Falls  –  Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • Hamilton Signature Sign  –  Hamilton, Ontario
  • Tower of Olympic Stadium (Parc Olympique)  –  Montreal, Quebec

If you’re near one of these locations on Sunday, I hope you’ll stop, take a photo, and post it on social media with the hashtag #LetsTalkAboutNETs @cnetscanada. Every bit of exposure helps raise awareness and may contribute to someone getting a quicker diagnosis.

 

 

I want to age like sea glass

LogoOne of the things that I love doing whenever I’m at the coast is beachcombing; walking the shoreline listening to the surf and searching for shells, driftwood, and bits of sea glass. Sharing that time with my two coastal grandsons is even better!

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Spending time with my very elderly father as well as these two boys doesn’t leave much time for writing about fashion, so this week I’m simply going to share this beautiful poem that was found on a fitting room door in a shop on Sanibel Island off the west coast of Florida.

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Growing up with gnomes

Our two BC grandsons are growing up in a world of magic. There are gnomes living in the forest near their North Vancouver home. When the boys were younger, we’d often explore the forest looking for gnome homes.

The closest we ever came to finding one was this little gnome gate.

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Now that the boys are in school and busy with other organized activities and play dates with friends, it’s been quite awhile since we’ve gone into the forest together, but the gnomes are still very much a part of their lives. Many years ago, our son and daughter-in-law installed a tiny gnome door on the outer wall of the family room so that the little men can come and go whenever they want. Though they never show up in the daytime, it’s obvious that they sometimes visit at night. They always decorate around their door for special occasions like Halloween and Christmas and they often leave tiny gifts for the boys.

In a world that is increasingly filled with stress and fear, I’m glad that there is also magic and wonder, imagination and creativity, and I’m thankful for parents who make the effort to nurture it!

Hike to Mystery Lake

Much of our time since we arrived in Vancouver a little over a week ago has been taken up dealing with issues pertaining to my elderly father’s declining health, but this weekend we’ve changed gears and we’re on grandparent duty while our son and daughter-in-law enjoy a short getaway without kids. Alhough the temperature was only 5ºC (41ºF) when we got up this morning, the sun was shining and we decided to take the boys on a mountain hike.

It’s been almost two years since our snowshoe adventures on Mount Seymour, but we took the same road that zigzags up the mountainside to the ski resort. Locating the trailhead near the bottom of the ski lift, we set off for Mystery Lake.

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Though the Vancouver Trails website calls this an easy hike, I tend to agree with those who left comments saying that it’s significantly more challenging than that. It’s fairly short, but steep, ascending approximately 150 metres over slippery tree roots and loose rocks. It was also quite wet and icy this morning which made it a bit more arduous than it might be during the summer months when, on hot days, people hike up to the lake to picnic and swim.

Although the hike was a bit more challenging than we expected, it was well worth it for the beauty that greeted us when Mystery Lake came into view.

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We sat on a rocky bluff along the shoreline and ate our picnic lunch. Though the lake wasn’t frozen yet, we had no desire to plunge in for a swim! In fact, the boys had lots of fun playing with the ice on the puddles.

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Rather than returning by the same trail we climbed up, we headed toward the Mystery Chairlift and went down the rocky path directly below it. Though not as scenic, it was an easy descent.

I didn’t think about the fact that we might fit in a hike while we’re here, so I didn’t bring my hiking shoes. I was impressed, however, to find that my golden sneakers managed the trail without any problem! They provided plenty of grip even on the most difficult parts.

Corduroy comeback

LogoI still remember my favourite corduroy bell bottoms from the 1970s. They were a warm toffee colour with dark brown patch pockets. Though its roots go back to ancient Egypt, corduroy as we know it today has been around since the late 18th century when it first appeared as factory wear in Manchester, England. It remained a working class fabric for the next hundred years before becoming a popular alternative to denim in the 1960s. While its popularity probably peaked in the 1970s, corduroy has never completely disappeared from the fashion world and it has been making a comeback this fall. Pants, skirts, jackets, and even dresses are showing up in this comfortable, easy care fabric.

The only corduroy garment in my present closet is this pair of tan pants.

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Unlike most corduroy, with its characteristic ribs, these are made of uncut corduroy which more closely resembles a very short napped velvet. A traditional five pocket skinny jean style, these cotton pants with just a hint of spandex came from Reitman’s, Canada’s largest womens’ clothing retailer, and are amongst the most comfortable in my closet. The only problem with them is that they’re several years old and beginning to show some wear. Perhaps this season would be a good time to find a replacement. Similar pair here.

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I’m wearing the cords with the Wonder Tee from cabi’s Fall 2019 Collection. You’ve seen the ultra light down vest from Uniqlo here and here and the gold sneakers that I wore all over Europe in May here.

 

Crazy (old) sock lady

LogoI’m a long-legged 5’8″ tall. For much of my life I worried about finding pants that were long enough to ensure that my socks didn’t show. Then along came ankle length cropped pants. Suddenly everyone’s ankles were showing. It took me awhile to warm up to the trend, but it really has made life easier for me.

I usually wear white sports socks with my jeans and other casual pants and black socks when I want a somewhat dressier look, but when I was cleaning out my drawers recently I realized that I’ve gradually accumulated a fairly sizeable collection of patterned socks. There are certainly much more colourful and fanciful pairs available, usually worn by gals who are several decades younger than me, but once in awhile it’s fun to look down and see something funkier than plain old black or white.

Some of my patterned socks, like these two weather themed pairs, are quite subtle. I’ve obviously worn the snowflake ones on the left a lot as they’re almost worn out. You can begin to see my gold toenail polish shining through!

These are definitely bolder! Both pairs were gifts from my daughter-in-law. There’s a story behind the zebra print pair on the left that make them very special to me. Robin is a long distance cyclist. She rides with a club that expects members to be able to ride at a minimum speed of 23 km/hr for at least 50 km and has taken part in many longer races and fundraising rides. If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know that I have neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) and that the zebra is our symbol. Robin wore the zebra socks for the first leg of a 2 day fundraising ride for cancer and then gave them to me (freshly washed, of course!)

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While zebra stripes hold special significance to me as a NETS patient, the giant panda is my favourite animal. Apparently Santa Claus knows that as this pair was in my Christmas stocking last year.

When we lived in Japan, I discovered that I love wearing toe socks which are very popular there. I brought several pairs home with me. I don’t wear them very often only because they’re a bit of a bother to put on, but once on they’re warm and comfortable. We were in Japan to teach English and I specifically bought this pair to wear to my Saturday morning preschool classes. Teachers and students alike take their shoes off before entering the classroom, so these were perfect for my little ones who were learning to count in English. They loved them!

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I didn’t realize until I started preparing for this post that almost all my patterned socks are in shades of black, white, and grey. Clearly, if I’m going to become a crazy (old) sock lady, I’ll have to invest in some coloured ones!

What about you? Do you wear patterned or brightly coloured socks? Would you?

Because you can

We’re nearing the end of another federal election campaign here in Canada. Monday, October 21 is election day, but since we’ll be far from home that day, we plan to vote in the advanced polls tomorrow. That will be Thanksgiving Sunday here in Canada which I think is quite appropriate. I’m very thankful that I live in a democratic country where I have the right, the responsibility, and the privilege to vote.

Sadly, many people don’t seem to feel that way. Voter turnout for the October 2015 federal election was 68.5%, a significant increase from 61.1% in the previous election. In my opinion, that’s still quite disgraceful. What is the matter with people? Why does 30 to 40% of our population fail to cast a ballot? Are we Canadians really that apathetic?

I will vote, if for no other reason than because I can. It’s a privilege that I don’t take lightly. Women before my time fought long and hard so that I could exercise this right. Women like Nellie McClung, well-known advocate and popular speaker on the subject of women’s suffrage in the early 1900s, who said “Our worthy opponents will emphasize the fact that women are the weaker vessel. Well I should think that a woman who cooks for men, washes and bakes and scrubs and sews for her family could stand the extra strain of marking a ballot every four years.”

The United States began allowing women to vote in 1920, after the ratification of the 19th Amendment to their Constitution. Here in Canada, many women voted for the first time the following year, but it wasn’t until much later that all Canadians had the right to vote. Most “people of colour” were prohibited from voting at the provincial and federal level until the late 1940s and it wasn’t until 1960 that every Canadian of age had the right to vote. That’s right! 1960! Prior to that time, aboriginal Canadians were required to give up their treaty rights and renounce their status under the Indian Act in order to qualify for the vote.

On election day, get off your butt and VOTE! Don’t make excuses. Don’t be one of the apathetic masses. Vote, if for no other reason than because you can! Before you vote, however, do your homework. Don’t cast your ballot based on how your parents or your grandparents have always voted and please look beyond social media for direction. Examine the record of those who’ve been leading us, look at the party platforms, and above all, consider the character of those who are vying for leadership positions. The future of our country depends on it!

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