The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


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The Bravery Bell

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“Promise me you’ll remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne, Christopher Robin.

In many hospitals that have chemotherapy wards, you’ll find a Bravery Bell.  The idea is that any cancer patient that finishes their last chemo session gets to ring it, much like the bells that end a round of boxing.  I’ve had the opportunity on several occasions to hear the bell ring, and each time, it brings a smile to my face and wish that I could join the systemic care team in applauding the latest patient that completed their treatment.  The last time that I heard it ring though, it also made me think about so many things.

Many patients with cancer face a different type of battle – their chemo never ends.  Are they any less brave than the ones who get to complete their treatment?  Shouldn’t they get to ring the bell too?  Others are treated with radiation – when their treatments end, they don’t have a bell to ring.  How about the family members that accompany the patients to their treatments, trying not to show any outward signs of fear, even though inside they are terrified of what their loved one will go through.  Trying every day to lift their spirits, trying to feel hope even when there may not be any.  Aren’t they brave too?

How about the wonderful nurses that provide such diligent care to each and every patient in the Chemotherapy Centres.  The nurses that quietly make sure that each and every patient is comfortable and warm and that their families are clear on what will happen.  The nurses who care about patients when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable.  If I could, I’d ring the Bravery Bell for them.  How about the doctors, no matter what the discipline, that contact patients and family members to reassure them and answer each and every one of their questions.  They too should get to ring that bell.

Cancer is the great equalizer.  Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, straight or gay, male, female or transgender, it doesn’t discriminate – anyone can get it.  It is unique in that the cure or the life prolonger often makes you sicker than the disease.  It makes patients, families, health care providers and care givers braver than they ever thought possible.

To learn more about the Bravery Bell and the nurse who brought it to Princess Margaret Hospital, click here https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2015/09/19/for-donna-the-bravery-bell-tolls.html


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Don’t Be a Boob, Get a Mammogram…and an Ultra Sound…

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Image courtesy of http://www.torontosun.com & the Ontario Health Ministry

Some years ago, just about three to be somewhat exact, I had and wrote about my very first mammogram https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/dont-be-a-boob-get-a-mammogram-if-your-doctor-tells-you/ I was a newbie back then to the process and didn’t really go back for my annual imaging like I was supposed to.  After a recent physical and scolding from my family doctor, I’m not only doing annual mammograms, I’m also getting an ultrasound to go along with it.  She is extra cautious, not a bad thing at all, but this isn’t necessary for everyone.   Just a reminder, in case you don’t want to re-read my older post, I have a very strong history of breast cancer in my family, including a primary relative.  I’m also at a high risk because I’m an Ashkenazi Jewess – just a fancy way of saying that I’m Jewish and of Eastern European descent.  Lucky me!

Just in case there are any people avoiding mammograms due to the unknown, I’m going to give you the D.L. (that down-low to all of you people who aren’t as cool as me).  After I changed into my elegant (she says with a sneer) smock, I had to sit braless in a waiting room filled with men.  Yup, my lucky day.  When they called my name, I tried not to jump up – I didn’t want to get two black eyes and was paranoid that my robe would pop open.  I forgot and put my Secret on in the morning.  My friends thanked me, but the technician didn’t.  I had to clean my armpits with cold water and icky hand soap and to make matters worse, I had to dry off with those industrial paper towel which crumbled into little pieces.  Note to self, don’t use deodorant on mammogram day.

I heaved one side of my bosoms onto a small ledge and looked at the “tray” that presses down on girl #1.  I swear, it really does look like an in-tray, except they don’t put any papers in it.  Remember, when they do the imaging, they do two per boob, breast, bosom or whatever you feel comfortable calling the girls.  She helped me position myself (AKA I totally got felt up, but I already complained about not even getting dinner first in my previous post, so I won’t use that joke again).  She was actually really great about everything and made me feel as comfortable as I could standing there topless in front of a complete stranger.  The press down didn’t hurt one little bit, not even any discomfort.  An ad came out in Canada using a panini press to remind women that even if they are pressed for time, there is always room to schedule a mammogram.  A lot of people found it tasteless, but it sort of does represent that downward press that I was talking about.  I made the mistake of looking down during the press and it really looked like one of those white Chinese buns that you can get with Dim Sum.  Just being observational.

The side squish was definitely the more uncomfortable of the two, but it also doesn’t really hurt.  If you are a guy reading this, skip over this part….don’t peak….Ladies, if you are going for a mammogram, schedule it after PMS time (if you aren’t menopausal) I guarantee you will thank me for this bit of advice.  The whole process took under 5 minutes and that included washing my deodorant off.

Next up – I was called by a very unfriendly former Eastern Bloch honey to get my ultrasounds.  She wasn’t a people person.  All she said to me was move closer to the edge and put your arm up over your head.  She kept making me move to the edge of the table.  I had to stop myself from reminding her that it wasn’t a king size bed.  It was actually more uncomfortable holding that position on each side than getting the mammogram – seriously.  They do warm up the gel, so it’s not freezing, which was my biggest worry.  It takes about 5 minutes per side.  I had to bite my tongue and not ask her “is it a boy or girl?” when I saw the image come up on the screen.  I could tell she would not have been amused.  I just took myself to my happy place – Nordstrom’s – and it was all over in ten minutes.  It’s quite a sticky mess after (no comments please) and I kind of wished that I could shower, but it was a small price to pay for piece of mind.

Breast cancer isn’t a joke, but if I can make this less scary for even one of you by communicating my experience, that’s all I really want to do.  Remember, a doctor doesn’t want you to have unnecessary tests, but early detection with breast cancer is key, so like the title says, don’t be a boob and put it off.

 

 


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London Belongs to Me – The Author

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I’ve wanted to interview Jacquelyn Middleton for my blog for awhile.  Originally, it was as part of my “inspiring” people series – I was inspired by her successful move from broadcast production and programming into award winning magazine writer.  Anyone that can make such a scary change inspires me.  Things got busy and often, it’s hard to find the time to interview people, but when she announced “London Belongs to Me” was coming out, that was a whole other cool factor and I had to reach out to find out more.  It gave me the opportunity to catch up with Jackie (JM), which was great, and find out more about her book and her writing process.

Q: How did you start writing?

JM: I started contributing to the Slice website (where she formerly worked).  I always wanted to do more writing and freelance writing seemed to be a good fit.

Q: But why the complete career change?

JM: I got laid off in 2008 from a job I loved in broadcast, but was writing for a website.  This gave me a portfolio of work that I had done.  There were family issues that I needed to be around for and free-lance writing provided me with the flexibility that I needed.

Q: So you always wanted to write?

JM: YES!  My Mum would tell me that I needed to write a book, but that was scary because I thought what if I can’t do it?  What if I don’t have the goods to deliver the thing that I most want to do?  I was inspired by Stephen Beresford (he is an English actor and writer for stage and TV).  He wrote Pride, my favourite movie for many reasons.  Pride was at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and I wanted to talk to him, but he was chatting with someone else so I didn’t get to tell him how much he inspired me at that moment.  As a freelance magazine writer, though, I got to interview him!  In magazines, if you have a great idea, you can make it happen.  I pitched an idea to Script Lab after he was nominated for a BAFTA for Pride.  I interviewed him in London (twice including last September).  He was wonderful – he delivered in the interview, was funny, and I just adored him.  He inspired me because nothing he ever wrote for TV ever went through, but he wrote a play and the National Theatre picked it up.  Remember, this was his first play and it was picked up by the biggest theatre in the world.  Then, Pride was picked up and he just made it happen.  He didn’t sit around and procrastinate.  Seeing him do this was a huge inspiration.  After the first interview with him, I knew that I needed to write a book.  I needed to try, even if it didn’t get published.  The book is a tribute to my Mum.

Q: How autobiographical is “London Belongs to Me”?  How close is the heroine, Alex Sinclair to you?

JM: Alex isn’t very similar to me at all.  I never moved to London, but I got to live vicariously through Alex.  I didn’t have a tumultuous relationship with my Mum.  My own Mum was my everything.  I had to visualize Alex’s relationship by removing my mother from my life and imagining what Alex went through.  Alex’s love of London is similar to my own and her drive to pursue the career that she wants is very much like me.   There are traits of Alex that I share and people who know me will pick up on them. Parts of me are in every character of the book.  It’s fun writing a book.  There are little tributes to people that only you or a select few would pick up on.

Q: Do you tell people that you know who the various characters are based on?

JM: No, I’ve stopped.  I can’t tell people in case they are wrong because that is how they are reading the story.  It’s personal and you should be able to read the story with who you pick or think the characters are.  I like it when people guess though.

Q: The book has a lot of fan girl moments.  What are your ultimate fan girl moments?

JM:  Meeting Simon LeBon from Duran Duran (Jill here – did I mention that Jackie has great taste in bands?) for the first time.  He never disappoints.  I have so many though!  Just a note, Jackie goes to Fan Expos and has met a lot of really cool people including one of my celebrity loves, Benedict Cumberbatch!

Q:  What books inspired you to write “London Belongs to Me”?

JM: Charlotte’s Web (She really has great taste in books, that’s my fave too!), 84 Charring Cross Road (true story and gorgeous movie), The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and My Love Affair with England (Jackie read it in 1993 before she went to England for the first time) all inspired me.

I’ll reveal more of the process behind writing a book in my next entry.  Remember that London can belong to you too if you order it!  Get London Belongs to Me on October 14th when it goes on sale.  You can also pre-order it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo, and Chapters!

Jackie – thank you for being so patient with all of my questions!

 

 


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Things That Make Me Go HMMMMMMM

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Image courtesy of independent.ie

Some days, when I am sitting in a boring meeting,on the subway or my what will become of me couch, I have very deep thoughts.  Very DEEP thoughts.  I thought I’d share some of the things that cause me distraction at work, on the subway when I’m supposed to be focused on my book challenge or on my sofa when I should be focused on the high quality TV that I’m such a fan of.  If you think I’m thinking about world peace or how to eradicate poverty, you are sadly mistaken.  I’m the same as you every day folks thinking about the really important issues like:

  • Why man buns are a thing?  Was it thanks to Jared Leto?
  • Why are man braids becoming a thing – they are really unattractive
  • Why do people insist on wearing those ear-deforming spacers?  They are just an eye sore
  • Are hipsters really hip?  If so, why do they try so hard not to be?
  • Why is it whenever someone tells me not to touch something because it’s hot do I feel like I should touch it to make sure that they aren’t making it up?
  • Why is the plural of goose geese but moose are just moose?  Would it be weird or trend starting if I threw meese around in conversation?
  • Is that mark on my back a spider bite?  If so, my eyes are widening in fear and I wish that I could run around and scream
  • Do parents really think that their ugly baby is cute or are they just saying that because it’s politically correct?  I was an ugly baby, I can say this
  • If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?  And please don’t tell me pilgrims, I need a more original answer
  • Why would Fox ever cancel The Mindy Project AKA the finest half hour on television
  • Will HULU renew The Mindy Project?
  • Why is it that I still love ’80s music even though the lyrics never made any sense?
  • Will Betty White make it to 100?
  • Should I get fillers?  I think my eyes are sinking
  • Was I as annoying as the 20 year olds that take public transit when I was there age?
  • Did that girl really walk out of the bathroom at work and not wash her hands?  Doesn’t she realize how gross that is?  Should I have told her that she had toilet paper on her shoe?
  • Is there still a market for the VHS tapes that I’m trying to sell or will I have to take them to Value Village?
  • Will people realize that what will become of me couch came from a book (can’t remember which one) or do they think I made it up?  Either way, it’s become a Jill-ism
  • Will the meek inherit the earth?  I don’t think so – no one will speak up to claim it, but am I wrong?
  • If I go to a 24 hour store at 3 in the morning will it really be open or is that a marketing ploy?
  • How does The Bachelor say “will you accept this rose?” with a straight face
  • How much does Chris Harrison get paid for saying “Ladies this is the final rose…Most dramatic rose ceremony ever”! etc.  I can take this off the list – $60,000 per episode – thank you Google
  • Is Phil really sorry to tell someone that they have been eliminated from “The Amazing Race”?
  • Does Kanye West really think he’s a great designer?
  • Does Kanye West really think he’s a god?
  • Why do I care about Kanye West?
  • When Drake says “You used to call me on my cell phone” – shouldn’t he say text?  Who calls anymore?  Love Hotline Bling but get real
  • Why do people love Adele so much? As a person she seems lovely, she has a great voice, but all of her songs sound the same – am I wrong?  HMMMMM…..

I know – it’s a lot to think about – you try getting through the day when there is so much going on in your head.


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The Fear Conquerer – Part 1

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I’ve mentioned, several times, that 2015 has been a time of change in my little piece of the universe.  Admittedly, some has not been joyous, but some has, at the very least, taught me some important life lessons.  I can’t be bothered being preachy today, but I can say, that conquering fears, which incidentally, was one of the topics on The Dr. Oz Show today is definitely on my agenda.

Hello Dolly’s which you see pictured above, aren’t very scary.  But, when you have me making them, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.  My issues with cooking and baking have been numerous.  I hate getting my hands dirty (literally), baking is too much of a science for someone as creative as me (ok – maybe a stretch), I can’t stand slimy things…the list goes on and on.  While cooking has never been a joy or passion of mine, in recent months, I have discovered, that there is a certain order to it that can be soothing. There is nothing more satisfying to someone type A like me, than practicing “mise en place” – putting in place.  I’ll never be a chef, and I may only make several things well, but I am learning.  For Mother’s Day, I made Lidia Bastianich’s Baked Ziti and it was a great, easy to follow recipe https://lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/1070.  It’s not winning any healthy cooking awards, but it is really good!  I love Lidia – I have a real soft spot for her and love watching her cook.

Just because I like cooking, doesn’t mean I like baking.  I’ll never enjoy the dusty, musty, boringness of it.  I hate rolling and patting things down, I’ve almost broken a mix master and there is no real way to keep things straight.  We were having a bake sale at work to raise money for supplies for a dinner at Ronald McDonald House.  A team of us are going to prepare and serve dinner for the residents.  As always, I was thinking that I would just donate money, but I decided conquer my fears and make something.  Well, Hello Dolly, you were calling my name.  On paper, and for the average person, it’s pretty basic.  For a novice like, me, an 8 minute prep lasted a half an hour.  Try figuring out what 3/4 of a cup of butter is supposed to be.  Well, had I been smarter, I would have just cut a slab using the 1/4 and 1/2 measurements, but I’m not mathematician.  Placing parchment paper was also a bit of a nightmare.  It was all just a little much for me…but I did it.  I didn’t quit when the going got crumby (pun intended).  See picture above – not perfect, but done!  And they sold out.  All I have to say is never again.  Good bye Dolly.

I also managed to FINALLY get my driver’s license after so many years.  Part of it was fear of driving in Toronto, part of it was a little fear of writing the test with a bunch of 16 year olds, and some of it was probably fear of failure…but I wrote the test, wasn’t the oldest person in the room and am now the proud owner of Government Issued Photo ID.  In Toronto, we have a graduated licensing system, so I have my G1.  To get my permanent license, I need to do 20 hours of in class (helps with insurance) and two road tests, but in under 2 years, I’ll have that.  I can hardly wait to do the in class – talk about your fears – it’s a Saturday and Sunday from 9-3:30 – YUCK.  Fear of lost time is a hard thing to live with.

I can only deal with so much fear, so I’m signing off for now,  plus I have to go watch  Dr. Oz  so that I can learn to conquer my fear of spiders.  Tune in soon to find out how I’m going to conquer some more fears and how you may be able to help!