Thursday, 30 May 2013

Party Hats On

There are certain advantages to having the exact same surgery twice within a short time frame. I know what to expect and I get to redo the things I did wrong the first time around. 

Like, say for example, you're someone who doesn't really like to wear underpants. You'll get over your undergarment dislike and you'll wear the biggest underpants you can find to your second surgery after finding out during your first that your underpants are the only item of clothing you wear into the hospital that you're allowed to keep wearing. 

Other wrongs I will right include asking for the relaxy drugs at the registration desk instead of waiting until I was on the operating table, and requesting that the anesthesia resident not be the one to do my IV or my breathing tube. I almost passed out during the IV and after my surgery I had the worst sore throat of my entire life (and I get throat rabies, like, four times a year. Minimum. I can handle throat pain. This was insane. I was coughing up scabs, you guys.) (You're welcome for that visual.)

Oh! Also! I now know that when a nurse asks you to rate your pain, if you say anything less than 4/10 you're not going to get the good drugs (unless you go on to qualify it by saying that your 10/10 is birthing an 8lb+ baby without an epidural. Easier to just say 6/10 to begin with.)

So. Trying to find the positive. Surgery starts around 2pm PST and all healthy hippie thoughts are appreciated. I will be celebrating so hard when I wake up from my surgery tomorrow. Maybe not with champagne but definitely with some form of narcotic. And ginger ale. And, possibly, some Barry Manilow. 

Monday, 27 May 2013


I found out that I was pregnant with Grady very early in my pregnancy. I walked around for weeks hiding my big secret. I felt horrible. Hot until I was cold. Nauseous until I was ravenous. Always on the verge of tears because everything was changing and I was scared and how dare that idiot cut me off in traffic when I was so clearly in such a fragile state? I felt so poorly and so different. Like there was a huge neon sign with flashy lights hovering above my head shouting "pregnant! Pregnant!" - everyone should have been able to tell that I was pregnant because I was feeling every second of my pregnancy. 

Cancer is the same way. I'm harbouring this secret while being irrationally angry that people can't just tell. It's not that I want any special treatment for having cancer. I just want people to be nice. I want people to not shoot me a dirty look when I'm walking through the veggie market and my kid is screeching "miiiiine" because he wants the orange I just put in my grocery basket and I'm ignoring him because if I open my mouth to tell him that actually that orange is not in fact his, I may vomit. I want people to not literally sigh and roll their eyes at me when they hold the elevator for me and I don't speed up because I'm exhausted. I want people to stop telling me to sleep when Grady sleeps (seriously, people, stop saying this. To everyone. Just stop.) Or I want a big neon Cancer sign with flashy Cancer lights so people will fuck right off and stop judging me. I am feeling every second of my cancer. 

I don't get a squishy newborn at the end of my cancer. I don't get a cancer shower with little cancer onesies and chocolate cancer cupcakes. I get something better (I hope.) At the end of my cancer I want to live like I have no time. No time for rage. No time for stupid fights or stubborn pride. I will suffer no fools. I will speak my mind and harbour no bad feelings. I will chase my dreams and I will tell people I love them. All the damn time. 

I will be my own neon sign with flashy lights shouting "happy! Happy! Happy!"

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Magic Ring

I moved to England when I was 21. I was a nanny and I was a barmaid but mostly I was lonely.

I met my soon-to-be soul sisters at the pub where I worked. I was intimidated by both of them - one because she was wildly outgoing and the other because she was so glamorous. They were both so beautiful and had cute husbands and British accents and I felt so plain and mediocre next to them.

One was very good at collecting displaced Canadians and my shyness and anxiety were simply no match for her enthusiasm and her huge heart. I soon became the tagalong on their adventures. Drinking in the pub garden, camping out at the Isle of Wight music festival, running a 5km race through the hilliest park in London, Christmas dinner, birthday parties - I never felt like I was unwanted or a nuisance.

The night before I left England to move back to Canada, there was a party at the pub. There was a lot of champagne consumed. A lot. By the end of the night, I was in the middle of a hula hoop with my two soul sisters. We called it our magic ring. Nothing could break the magic ring. We stumbled down the street from the pub, hugging each other in our magic ring, determined that our friendship would remain intact. 

And here we are, nine years, one wedding, five babies, and multiple career changes later and our friendship is as strong as ever. I love these two ladies. I strive to be more like them every day. They are strong and they are brilliant and they are so kind. They are my family. 

Ladies, this was the least drunky photo I could find from that night! xx

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Shawn bought me a fancy juicer for Mother's Day. I am in love with my fancy juicer. I know that juicing everything all the time is a bad plan but I am really enjoying my one daily juice (first person to tell me that juicing just concentrates calories / sugars and doesn't add anything to your diet gets a dickpunch.)

We juice everything. My current favourite is just a grapefruit / carrot combination but sometimes we go nuts and do 4, 5, 6-fruit(!) juice combos. Yeah, we're wild and crazy like that.

I've ordered some wheatgrass seeds so that I can grow and juice my own wheatgrass. Twenty-year old Hillary is so disappointed with thirty-year old Hillary (but to be fair, thirty-year old Hillary is pretty pissed with twenty-year old Hillary's questionable lifestyle choices that could have contributed to the bastard thyroid situation.)

Do you juice? What is your favourite combination? Do you masticate or are you all about the centrifugal? (Don't mind me, just a little juicer speak.) (Someone punch me, please.)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


My little sister is due to give birth three days after my surgery. I saw her on Saturday and she is so pregnant and so beautiful. She is a glowy pregnant lady. She is skinny all over with this gorgeous big bump and I am so happy for her but I am also jealous.

Which is utterly and completely ridiculous.

I am nowhere near ready for another baby. Shawn and I don't even know if we want to (try to) add more kids to our family. Before this cancer thing hit, people had started asking when we were going to try for kid #2 (like it's a given - what is up with that?) and we would hem and haw and one of us would finally say, "2016? Ish?" And we would be serious.

But here I am, sad and jealous of pregnant ladies (because, umm, everyone is pregnant right now. Seriously. Have you seen Twitter lately? It's all pregnancy announcements and beautiful bumps and squishy newborns.)

So just to sum up: I don't want to be pregnant. I don't want a baby. I'm just mad that I can't get pregnant / have a baby (right now! Who knows what the future holds.)

I am crazy is what I'm saying.

(Also? I think it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: I am so happy for my sister and all the pregnant ladies / squishy newborns. Honestly. And if I die from thyroid cancer I fully expect there to be at least one little Hillary - with 2 L's goddammit - running around next year because what good is dying from cancer if you don't get at least one squishy newborn named in your honour?)

(I don't think I'm going to die from thyroid cancer. I think I'm going to die of old lady disease when I am 97 years old.)

This should probably just stay in my drafts folder, hey?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Thank You Feels Inadequate But It's All I've Got

I have over 50 emails sitting in my drafts folder. I have started and abandoned more than 50 thank yous. I start off on the right track but my words quickly dissolve into cuss words. I don't want my thank yous to be vitriolic and laden with negativity.

I'm just ... I'm still mad. I think about how much time I have wasted and how much more I want to do - and how crappy I feel right now - and I'm mad. I think about my doctor, my endocrinologist, my surgeon, the lab techs and various doctors who performed my biopsies pre-surgery - who all said that the odds were in my favour - and I'm mad. I think about the people who put crappy, chemical-y food in their mouths and don't exercise - who don't have cancer - and I'm mad. I'm mad all the time. About everything.

When I try to dissect my anger, when I try to rationalize all this rage that is bubbling up in my chest, I can't breathe. I think about how Grady is going to be 22 months old next week. Too young to remember me. He can look at photographs and see that he has my eyes. People will tell him that he laughs like I laugh. Maybe in the future he will love to cook, or maybe he will have a laughably bad singing voice, or maybe odd numbers will make him uncomfortable and someone will say, "Oh! Your mom loved to cook / had a laughably bad singing voice / hated odd numbers too!" But he won't remember. I won't be the lady who started every morning with a dance party in the kitchen. I'll be the lady in the photograph with the pretty eyes and a crooked smile. And it makes me mad. I think that right now being mad is easier than being sad. If I let myself be sad I won't be able to get out of bed. I think my rage is my protective shell right now.

Your words of support - your comments and tweets and emails and text messages and cards - they're shiny little stones I'm collecting. They're reinforcing the tiny rage wall surrounding my broken heart and whenever I'm faced with something difficult - like, being told I have the good cancer, or being told that there are sicker people out there who have it worse than I do, or being asked what cancer means for my fertility (it means fuck you is what it means! I hadn't even thought of that layer of shite so thanks for bringing it to the forefront of my mind!) - I just pile up more of my shiny little stones and hope they hold. Because even though I'm a ball of fury, I have yet to explode. I came close today when I accidentally threw my car keys in the parkade garbage can and I had to dig through a weekend's worth of fast food wrappers and apple cores to find them, but fortunately I had my foul-mouthed little parrot with me so I just gritted my teeth and said a few "fudging fiddlesticks." There have been a lot of fudging fiddlesticks this week.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Well, shit.

So I've got thyroid cancer. Papillary/follicular cancer to be exact. My bastard thyroid is not content with only one type of cancer. Fucking overachiever grew two.

I don't know what to think. I don't know how to act. I fluctuate between numb and white-hot rage. I know I'm still processing. I know there will be other feelings but right now there is nothing or there is anger. I am SO pissed. I am the maddest. I ... don't even know why. Or at whom. I'm just ... angry. So angry.

The next step is to have the exact same surgery as I just had to grab the rest of my thyroid. Hopefully that will happen within the next month. For now I just wait. My doctors won't make a treatment plan until after the next surgery.

The good news is that thyroid cancer is extremely treatable. The bad news is that it's not all that reassuring to hear. I feel like I'm supposed to be fucking glad or something. People keep telling me it's the best cancer to have. So ... wheeee? I am trying to stay positive but it's exhausting. I'm so tired, you guys.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Awkward Exchanges, Inappropriate Touching, and Barry Manilow - or - My Surgery Recap

I met my surgeon once - briefly - before my surgery and I got a very intelligent and very awkward vibe from him. I feel a certain kinship with awkward people. I *get* socially awkward people. Socially awkward people are my people.

So when he walked into my pre-op room the morning of my surgery and cheerily announced he was ready to take the right side of my thyroid (when really he was supposed to be taking the left side) I couldn't tell if he was kidding or not. So I mirrored his smile and cheerily replied that nope, he was ready to take the left. Which led to an awkward exchange between us, and then some nurses joined in, and then so did the anesthesiologist, and then I panicked a little, and that's how I ended up with a giant checkmark on the left side of my neck. Also, our awkward exchange ended with him reaching out and stroking my cheek (which ... did not make things any less awkward.)

We were not off to an auspicious start but my nerves were calmed as soon as I walked into the operating room. (Sidebar: I was not expecting to walk into the operating room and climb up onto the operating table by myself. It was bizarre.) On the table right inside the door was a CD player with a Barry Manilow greatest hits CD sitting beside it. That's right, the soundtrack to my surgery was provided by "Ultimate Manilow." I couldn't help but laugh. And then they gave me the good drugs and I don't remember anything until I woke up in recovery.

The surgery went well and I was able to go home the same day. I felt so good that first day. It was bizarre how good I felt. There have been ups and downs but overall it's been much easier and less painful than I was expecting. They were unable to bandage my incision because of the location on my neck so it was tough to keep Grady's fingers off it for the first few days. He's fascinated by it. He calls it my owie and kisses it at least once a day.

I meet with my surgeon again on Friday. This is the big appointment. The definitely not cancer / definitely cancer appointment. I'm terrified but also relieved to finally be getting some answers. I'm also really excited to see my surgeon again. He fascinates me. I didn't take him for a Fanilow.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Tugging at My Heartstrings and a Giveaway

So let me just start this by saying that I was given a complimentary photo shoot and a pile of beautiful digital images for participating in this giveaway. With that being said, my thoughts and words are my own.

The lovely Amy Lee of The Connection We Share offered to take photos of me and Grady to promote a new photography session she is offering called Just: Be Portraits. The idea behind Just: Be Portraits is to give mothers or fathers an opportunity to connect one-on-one with their child and come away with a tangible expression of their love. Given that Grady is changing so much and every day he seems more like a kid instead of my teeny little baby, I jumped at the chance. (Real talk: I also - vainly - really wanted some photos done before my surgery marred my neck for life.)

Amy sent me a questionnaire so that she could design a personal session just for us. I loved going through the questions because it gave me time to really reflect on who Grady is right now (something I should be doing more often but it gets pushed to the side in our busy everyday life.) My favourite question was "if your child was a colour, what colour would he be?" I was initially stumped by this question but as soon as I started the thought process it became crystal clear. Grady is orange. Bright, vibrant, a little bit fiery, unstoppable orange.

The session itself was so fun. I was worried that Grady would be shy or uncooperative (he'd had a bad sleep the night before) but Amy was so patient with him. She got down on his level and really drew him out of his shell. I was so impressed by how comfortable she made both me and Grady feel. It didn't feel like we were posing for photographs. It felt like we were just hanging out and chatting with a friend (who happened to be snapping photos of us.)

I was surprised by how emotional I became when I first saw the images Amy captured. The image of me laughing with Grady is a perfect representation of what life with Grady is like right now: a cheeky grin, curls everywhere, a bit messy, and so many laughs. I'm so glad that I have these treasures to share with Grady when he's older.

Amy is generously offering a giveaway to one lucky reader. The winner will receive a Just: Be Session (one parent and one child) and one 8x10 print with the digital negative ($200 value.) To enter, all you have to do is subscribe to Amy's emails (which are super fun and include goodies like a free teeth brushing chart and a guide to writing letters to your children) and like her page on Facebook. Leave a comment here to tell me you've done both and let me know why you would like to win. I will pick a winner on Friday May 10th.

To sign up for Amy's emails, submit the form below:


To celebrate the launch of Just: Be Portraits, The Connection We Share is offering the first 5 readers who book a session a $100 credit towards any purchase. Just in time for Mother's Day! Click here to book a session and for more information.