Thursday, February 28, 2008


Today, I feel like living but don't know how. Today, I want it more than ever but can't seem to grab it. Today with the buzz gone, I am down. I think I thought that the kindness would save my life; but alas the battle is still mine. Who gets this job? Me. Who wants it? Not me. In Charge of saving my own life, really? Me?

The Cancer Agency is bound by protocol; their protocol; the one devised by board members and research dollars. The one that says those that can be saved will, and those [who they don't believe can be saved] won't, or they won't help them as much as the ones who can.

So who will give me a hysterectomy? Their surgeon was originally on side, but after their group conference, (the conference where they talk about who is savable and who is not) they concluded that they wouldn't give me one. Again, maybe Dr. Phil can get one going for me. I'll ask around. Perhaps there is a back alley underground black market surgeon, the one with the coat hanger, maybe he'll do it. More resources needed, more appointments. More work, more worth, more life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Speech

Intro Joke 1
Thank you for coming out to the Kick-Ass Cancer Benefit, Celebrating and Supporting the Unstoppable Treice Backs. You know, when Erin first emailed me the idea for the title of this event, I, with an undocumented case of dyslexia apparently, read “celebrating and stopping the unsupportable Treice Backs!”

Intro Joke 2
Anyway, so thank you. Thanks for being here tonight. You know, I’m actually not here right now. I’m probably puking in the alley; I have Imposter Syndrome and I think I’ve flown the coop. I thought maybe later we could divide the room into those with Imposter Syndrome and those without; maybe do a little Row Row Row Your Boat or There Ain’t No Flies on Us, or even Kumbya?

No Seriously, Music
Actually, no we’ve got a great line of up of Music tonight. A big hand and a big thank you to Paul Pigat, to Wichita Trip, to the Boomchix and to Big Joe Burke. Also, we have a special performance by Soressa Gardner

No, Seriously
I’ve been struggling with how to convey how important and touching it is to me that you’ve all shown up tonight to support me; I can’t say enough. I’m very nervous, partially because there’s so many people in the room that I don’t know, but also because there are so many people in the room that I do know!

Body Joke 3
So maybe if the people I do know could leave the room, I could just hang out with the people I don't know!

Anyway, it was the Grandson of Confucius who said that just as water will flow, onobstructed, downhill, we given the chance to be what we are, will extend ourselves in kindness. So you guys are all living unobstructed lives as far as I can tell – very, very kind.

Now I'm serious, thank you for this
In the days preceding this event I started falling asleep each night to the sensation of swelling. Every time I closed my eyes this past week I felt I was filling up, like a balloon. I seemed to be taking many breaths in, but I never let them out. I could feel my arms puffing up slowly against my rising belly, my legs intensifying because my knees and ankles were inflating.

I felt like the man who could swallow the sea; until before I knew it I was huge in my room. The sensation in my limbs was that they were pink and light and growing and the stuffing themselves into the corners of my bedroom, my big old booty backed up against the window and my nose pressed into the ceiling. When I opened my eyes I could only see my cheeks as they grew like bubble gum up and over my head. And with each everlasting breath in, my nostrils grew to the size of eggs.There I lay, night after night, nap after nap this week, light as feather but like a gargantuan cherubim rising like dough.

Ahh, the sensation of love; the anticipation of this room and all of you who have come to warm it with me; thank you. Thank you so much for this.

This event has come together because of hearts like yours. It is powerful because of your contributions and for your empathy. I would like to take a moment to honour the people in the room who have been touched by cancer in some way or another, good and bad. Their fights have ultimately been round after round of referee-less pain and mayhem, love and learning and I want them to feel connected here tonight for their journeys. So a toast if you will, for everyone who’s been touched by less than perfect health.

Tonight let’s celebrate!

So, a big thank you to everyone, all the volunteers who helpled to put this event together and to all the merchants who donated gifts to support my family through this tough time. Also, a big thank you to the WISE Club for supporting me for 16 years now!

So just a few specific thank yous,

I'd like to thank Chuck MacFarlane who inserted herself back into my life with love and is running this fabulous Silent Auction.

I’d like to thank Glynis Burke who pitched this event with adornment to everyone who would listen, not to mention her constant pitching of the Edamame bean for treating cancer!

I’d like to thank Erin Frizzell for organizing this classy event with love and excellence as always.

I’d like to thank Monique Koronko for making clear, that in no uncertain terms she’s on my team.

I’d like to thank Niki Walton for living the truth everyday and for doing it gracefully, and for taking it as it comes, in her long beautiful strides

I’d like to thank my Mom for loving me and learning me, for being near me and for getting closer everyday

I’d like to thank my son Max for showing me that he needs me everyday

And I’d like to thank my husband Kelly for kissing me, for tucking me in and for telling me every night that everything is going to be okay.

So Let’s celebrate!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008


I don't know quite what to do with all of this kindness, except accept it. It doesn't feel quite right and yet it does somehow; like it's filling some holes from the past, mudding over some cracks, applying pressure to puncture and stiching up some tears.
I don't know quite what to do with this swelling, this feeling of fullness. Perhaps I'll eat less; thank you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Chemo Chair

The Chemo chair sits with three other chemo chairs in a standard hospital room. There is one in each corner; two by the window. The chemo chair is a recliner and comes in hospital green or hospital peach. I like the chair by the window, and because hospital peach reminds me of dirty band-aids, I always try to grab a green chair.

Each room has a full-time nurse who juggles names, birthdates, admin, blood, veins, reactions and bags. She also tolerates patients who are angry with her or with the system. And she tries to understand and assist the patients who are teary eyed and weak.

When starting a chemo session for a patient, sometimes the nurse misses a vein and calls for another nurse; sometimes that nurse misses a vein and calls for another nurse too. Otherwise, as long as everything goes well there's one nurse to four chemo chairs. The nurse, who is usually dressed in nursing clothes or even casual gym clothes, has a special realtionship with her thick, blue, waxy gown and gloves. Each time she hangs a bag of Chemical Therapy, say Carbolplation or Paclitaxol, she must suit up. Just like we do when we're working with Asebestos. The protocol exists in case the bag breaks. If it does, it may burn her or get into her eyes; it may also give her cancer.

Sometimes, I sit and look at the other patients in the other chairs and wonder about them. Sometimes I try to avoid their stares because I know they're looking at me and wondering about me. Sometimes someone who still has their hair and is relatively new to the process stares a lot at everyone else in the room as if to wonder if she too will share our look some day soon.

Sometimes, I get scheduled with a preacher and I listen. Other times I'm with another mother and we talk. Sometimes the ESL patients struggle to understand and everyone wants to help the nurse explain at the same time. Other times, there is one guy in the room who wants to take care of everyone. Most times, though, there is silence among us.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Anti-Venom

The Chemotherapy is truly a poison; somewhat devilish; for now anyway. In my second round, it seems to have brought on some pain and anquish. Some of that deep grief I was feeling last month is here with me now. It turned me about and left me sick, stoned, angry and hurt.

I hope that it's more angleic characteristics will reveal themselves in a few months when my body glows under its cancer free halo.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This and That

Sometimes late at night I find Fault lingering about. He's just a shadow for just a moment and then he's gone. My body has struggled it seems, to keep its cells benign. Too much running, too much playing, too much truth and not enough at the same time. Back to the shower; and the scour.

Last week, I found myself dressing pretty for my oncologist. I was supposed to have her paged in the building when I arrived. Instead, I ran into her just outside the clinic. A soft smile and a glance at the sidewalk showed me she recognized my beauty under my wig and asked if I would accompany her to the Safeway with her recyclables. We walked, and she held my arm, her head, just beneath my shoulder pressed against me. I thought for an instant that we could drop off my cancer there too, but they didn't have a bin for that.

I asked one of the doctors today if I could have a PET scan at the end of all the treatments. She said "yes, the PET scan is best for showing the cancer." I told her that she misunderstood me, I didn't want the PET scan to show the cancer, I wanted the PET scan to show that there was no cancer at the end of all these treatments. She smiled and cocked her head to one side in disbelief'.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Today is my last day of work. I'm feeling pretty good about it and I'm looking forward to starting something new. I had an interview this morning for another job. It went well.

The company was called The Hammer and The Healer and they asked me to be there for 10:00am. Their offices are located on the 89th floor of the Universal Building downtown. I'd never heard of these guys before but was anxious to get on with Construction Management.

I was escorted into a round conference room and was asked to sit before a panel of interviewers. The board room table was made of cinnamon bark and was stiched together with some kind of twine. I'd never seen anything like it. The artwork was colourful and framed in wood from pear trees and rose bushes. There were small, smooth stones and pebbles in the centre of the table and Hope was there.

I don't know how she ended up working for this construction company but I was a little offended. I wonder if the other interviewers knew that I caught her making out with Death on my couch last week; geez. I decided it was best not to say anything about that as I really wanted this job. She spoke first actually. She asked for her special glasses back.

I took them off and she was right, my eyes had adjusted and I could see just as well without them as when I was wearing them. I looked over to the windows and saw that they were framed with words of wisdom; a perfect vista for that wide sky.

One of the guys asked if I was comfortable, and then started. "We've taken a look at your resume and see you've included a lot of construction management experience here."

"Yes, yes, I have. That's what I am; a project manager; that's who I am; a manger, of things."

"Oh, you know that's so strange. We just don't see it. Do you remember what Angeles Arrien said once?"

"Ah, um, no, no idea."

"She said 'never hide your green hair - they can see it anyway.' You see Mrs. Backs, we think you have more to offer than this management stuff. We think you are an artist and a lover, a mother and a child. We think you love words and letters and clocks and watches. We truly believe that you think in shapes and colours; we see your moods and your madness and we'd love to have you here. How are you with multi taksing?"

"Oh, I am very, very good at multi tasking, you wouldn't really believe it. I truly am a star when it comes to multi tasking. Basically, I function by multi tasking all the time, whether I'm at home or at work, I'm all over it."

"That's really too bad."

"Um, oh?"

"You see for this job, you need to focus on only one thing. What do these pebbles here, in the centre of the table remind you of?"

"Um, aggregate; say a two inch minus?"

"You mean they don't make you think of how something so rough can emerge so smooth? They don't make you think of the power of the sea? They don't bring the taste of salt to the back of your tongue?"

"Come to think of it, they do. When I look at them I hear a trickle. You're right.

"That's good, very good. How are you with deadlines and spreadsheets? How do you handle stress?"

"I'm excellent with deadlines and spreadsheets, I work best under pressure."

"Again, that's really too bad. To work at The Hammer and The Healer you'll need to forget about deadlines and you'll need to be stress free. You'll need to learn to find peace and balance and you'll need to cleanse the soils in which these weeds are growing." You'll need to find joy and feel it. You will need to rest when you need to and walk when you can. You will need to heal yourself.

"When can I start?"

"You already have."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Deep Thoughts

I hate this, it really is too much at certain moments; in most moments. Recently, I've been getting 5 and 10 minutes a day of relief. Relief from my situation means I forget where I am, what I have and what it means and think of something different. I hope to get a couple full days in a row like that - another bit of rhetoric would really be helpful. This one is wearing on me.

Like yesterday at the Safeway. I spoke to the cashier about why they get frustrated when you swipe your debit card the wrong way. They try to grab it and turn it around for you or they say "no, no, the other way." I told him he should try saying nothing. There are only two options for us consumers you know, swipe it this way or swipe it that way. If it doesn't work the first time, I told him, I would think of swiping it the other way on my own; thus saving him the negative energy expenditure. He agreed and I thought about that for 5 or 10 minutes after that. Really deep thoughts, oh how nice.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008


Is thinking or obsessing about death an infidelity of sorts? Naturally my true love is to my life however I often find myself yearning for more information about death, to get closer, to kiss another. It is so risqué, so fun, so forbidden and so uncomfortable that it is almost certainly an affair.

Mostly, I have very structured thoughts about my death. For a project manager like myself, is this not the final project? The ultimate attention to critical path, to early starts and late finishes, to detail, to perfection and to flow. I can't get enough of the way this might go! A friend said recently that my imagination must be just running wild; she is absolutely right. It is in fact a furry of thoughts and shapes and lights and buzzing sounds. Right now, I can only entertain everything, absolutely everything is permitted here. Ahh, meditation, another thing on my list.

I learned that it is no betrayal, there is no affair. I'm just flirting. If I fear death I cannot live. I must do away with the fear, and to do that I must know death. I need to know it to say no to it. I need to get a taste of it to pass it up. I need to digest it to feel sick and purge it. I need to have a brief encounter with it to see my life without me and say no fucking way, thank you very much you fat-assed bastard.

So, I do hang out with death sometimes, Kelly doesn't mind.

I am paralyzed however, when it's the other way around; when death calls the shots and visits me with no warning, no phone call, nothing. When it flashes across my screen, knocks on my conscience and leaves track marks in my heart. If you could put dread in a needle and shoot it up it would fill your body with doom in less than a second. That's what it feels like when death stops by. When death visits me it feels like what it must feel like between the second you're holding on to the Golden Gate Bridge to jump and the second you're not. Pure dread.

Please don't come around here no more. (thank you very much you fat- assed bastard)