Cheering and booing swept across the country after hospitals cancelled elective surgery. People on the list for a colonoscopy sang out in perfect harmony: put it off for as long as you like was the chorus. The boos came from everyone waiting for cataract surgery who’ll have to put up with cloudy vision for a while longer. They will welcome the moment they no longer see the world through what looks like a Vaseline film. Those of us with more immediate needs like child birth or chemotherapy will still be attended to. For myself, there are no more grandchildren on the horizon. No grandnieces orRead More →

If you ever find yourself kicked off-centre and into the maelstrom of cancer care, one of the first things you’ll get will be a 3-ring binder full of useful information. Among other things, it will tell you about the drugs you’ll take, and the side effects you may or may not experience. One common effect of chemotherapy, the binder tells me, is a reduction in neutrophils. As you are no doubt aware, a significant drop in neutrophils brings on neutropenia: white blood cells drop and your immune system gets lazy. Your body is so busy dealing with the chemo that it forgets to check againstRead More →

The year after my family arrived in Canada, one of the great icons of rock and roll was born. It was 1958 and Johnny B. Goode arrived fully formed. He didn’t ever grow any older. He never learned to read and write so well, but he could play a guitar just like ringing a bell. I heard a bell ring last Wednesday. It was my second trip to Chemo Camp, as a friend who’s been there,  done that called it the other day. The room was full. Treatment was backed up. The infusion room had been shut down over the Easter holiday as nurses andRead More →

Do any of you remember the old song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree? Its roots were in American folklore. Convicts returning from prison, and soldiers returning from the civil war, would look for a yellow ribbon outside their homes. If there was one, they were welcome back. If not, they should keep on shuffling down the dusty road. They had been replaced. The song by Tony Orlando and Dawn came out in 1973, a couple of years before the end of the Vietnam War and the ribbons eventually became messages of support for troops who had been sent to foreign landsRead More →